Quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw wasn’t kidding about trainers literally throwing things at the quarterbacks while they’re going through drills in practice to help in focus and concentration under fire.
There were blue blocking pads flying every which way.
While there were signs of promise from junior college transfer Stephen Johnson, who is running with the second team, Drew Barker clearly was in command at the quarterback spot early in the spring.
The only returning player with experience at quarterback missed on a couple throws, but seemed to have good command in the pocket and guided the Kentucky offense on two 70-plus yard scoring drives.
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The success of the first-team offense left defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot with some more decisions to make moving forward.
He was pleased that the second-team defense didn’t give up any points (a touchdown run for Johnson was negated by a penalty call), which means more depth for UK’s defense.
But it also will mean some potential shuffling.
“Nobody’s earned a job, so maybe some of those guys will get into the starting lineup,” he said of the second-team defensive players. “They did a good job in this scrimmage. Played well, didn’t give any points up, won a lot of third down battles, played the run well.”
▪ Players that ran with the first-team defense (base) on Saturday included linemen Matt Elam, Courtney Miggins and Regie Meant; linebackers Courtney Love, Jordan Jones, Josh Allen and Denzil Ware. In the secondary, it was a lot of Darius West, Mike Edwards, Chris Westry and Derrick Baity.
▪ In early drills, there was a real swag battle between Kentucky’s wide receivers and defensive backs, which should only help all of them get better. There were several diving, fun catches by players like Charles Walker, Blake Bone and Jeff Badet.
Several big plays made on the ball as well, including a pretty pick by Mike Edwards of a Davis Mattingly throw.
There’s plenty of back-and-forth between new wide receivers coach Lamar Thomas, who had his players kneeling in front of him during a water break. As soon as Stoops came over to chat with the group, Thomas also jokingly took a knee.
Thomas, who wears a pen in his visor that looks like an antenna is sticking out of his head, is animated and energetic on the field, too, as many of UK’s wide receivers have noted in interviews the past couple of weeks.
“It’s been good. We need that,” Stoops said of Thomas’ energy. “We need that across the board, coaches to push these guys and get them energized. He’s been a good influence on them.”
▪ Former walk-on Cole Mosier appears to be making a move at that open left tackle spot. The 6-foot-6 junior, who has played at every position on the line except center, was running with the starters at that spot all day and held his own. Tate Leavitt, the junior college standout with scholarship offers from 20-plus big-name schools, was in with the second team most of the day at left tackle.
▪ In the past couple days, UK has moved Ryan Timmons from the ‘X’ wide receiver position to the ‘Y’ position, trying to utilize his abilities more. “I love the way he came out and learned and doing the two positions, he’s got to learn a lot,” Gran said. “That’ll get him on the field more. I really like where he’s at right now and he’s coming out and competing and learning every day, so I’m fired up about him.”