UK Football

UK football scrimmage puts spotlight on younger players

University of Kentucky football coach Joker Phillips conducted a scrimmage for redshirts and younger players Thursday morning. Here are a few notes:

■ Rainy weather forced the scrimmage indoors at Nutter Field House. The scrimmage went 60 plays, and only 60 yards of the field was used (The coaches made the end zone the 20-yard line to avoid a part of the turf that meets up with the indoor track, which could cause injury if a player were to be tackled on it.)

■ Morgan Newton started the first drive at quarterback and led the offense to a touchdown, as Jonathan George scored on a 2-yard run. Newton left the scrimmage later after twisting an ankle.

■ Ryan Mossakowski had some impressive moments, including a 50-yard TD pass to E.J. Fields, who made a nice adjustment on the ball and broke a tackle on his way to the end zone.

■ Brandon Gainer and Tevin McCaden got the bulk of the carries at tailback. McCaden scored on a 47-yard TD run, but he lost a fumble. Gainer also lost a fumble but made some nice runs. Phillips is hoping that Gainer will continue to learn how to use his 5-foot-11, 215-pound frame.

"He's got more consistent in knowing when to lower his pads," Phillips said. "He had a chance on the goal line on one we thought he'd get in, and he's cruising trying to be cute. This isn't a cute game, especially for a big back.

■ Mister Cobble dominated at defensive tackle. Cobble, who's sitting out for academic reasons, sacked Newton and was in the backfield all morning.

■ Phillips liked what he saw out of redshirt linebacker Malcolm McDuffen.

"He's one of those speed linebackers you have to have in this league," Phillips said. "He can go out and play in space."

■ Miles Simpson, who signed as a running back in February, spent the scrimmage at safety. Simpson looked physical enough to make the adjustment and Phillips said he could ultimately wind up at linebacker.

■ Tight end Alex Smith and receiver Brian Adams sat out with injuries. Smith was walking in a boot with a bad ankle, and Adams has a hamstring injury that might keep him out of next week's game at Tennessee.

Phillips was disappointed that he wasn't able to get a good look at Smith, the highest-rated member of the recruiting class who redshirted after a rough fall camp.

"This scrimmage is for guys like Alex Smith," Phillips said. "We really wanted to see him. We went 60 reps and I would have liked to have seen Alex in 25 or 30 of those reps."

Another freshman tight end, Ronnie Shields, had a pair of catches and received praise from Phillips for his blocking.

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