Kentucky might use star receiver Lynn Bowden some at quarterback
Kentucky football opened up a good portion of its practice to the media on Tuesday morning. From that, we present the following five observations:
1. It was hot. So how hot was it? During a break, the audio speakers that normally pump out hip-hop or similar sounds at the Joe Craft Football Training Facility played Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire followed by Smash Mouth’s Walkin’ On The Sun. It was hot.
The hotter the better. After all, the Cats open their season Aug. 31 against the Toledo Rockets at — bring the sunscreen — high noon. We have our friends at the ESPN family of networks to thank for that. The SEC Network has the telecast. If you think it’s going to be cooler two weeks from now, you might be delirious from dehydration.
(Side note: Before practice started, Lawrence County native Tyler Childers’ White House Road was playing on the loudspeakers, leading us to believe Paintsville’s Kash Daniel might have been in charge of the playlist.)
2. The secondary is a work in progress. Afterward, head coach Mark Stoops said he thought he had a general idea of who would be on the field in UK’s totally rebuilt defensive backfield on opening day.
If that’s the case, look for sophomore Cedrick Dort, sophomore Yusuf Corker, senior Jordan Griffin, sophomore Tyrell Ajian and redshirt freshman Jamari Brown to be on the field first. As well, it appears true freshmen M.J. Devonshire and Moses Douglass are very much in the mix, along with junior-college transfer Quandre Mosely. But, as Stoops stressed, there’s a lot of work to do.
3. The quarterbacks looked good. (That’s plural for a reason.) Starter Terry Wilson was generally on target and even went beyond that with a perfect sideline throw to Josh Ali. Backup Sawyer Smith continues to show a strong arm, especially pushing the ball down the field.
“We’ve gotten so much better at the deep ball this year,” said quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw afterward.
And junior wide receiver Lynn Bowden also threw a few passes Tuesday. Not that this is any sort of surprise. Bowden was a star high school quarterback who completed three of four passes as a freshman. He threw it just once last year, but looks like he could shake off the rust.
One thing we know: offensive coordinator Eddie Gran is going to get the ball in Bowden’s hands as many ways as possible.
(Side note: Tough news for Nick Scalzo, the true freshman quarterback from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who injured his knee in last Saturday’s scrimmage and will undergo his second knee surgery. Scalzo tore his ACL in high school.)
4. Josh Paschal is out and about. Talk about a bonus. The sophomore from Maryland recently received his last treatment for skin cancer. And after playing in just three games last year, Paschal looks like he could play an important role on a young defense that will need time to find itself.
Better still, after being moved inside to the defensive line last year before his cancer was discovered, Paschal is now back at outside linebacker. If that seems odd for a player who is listed at 284 pounds, Paschal has the athletic ability to pull it off.
5. Don’t forget about Kentucky’s punter. Some do. I’ve been asked a few times recently about UK’s punting game, as if that might be a question mark. In fact, that question was answered last year when Max Duffy averaged 44.8 yards per punt, third highest in UK history.
The Australia native is back for his junior season and were it not for Texas A&M’s Braden Mann, Duffy would be in the running for first-team All-SEC. He might be anyway.
Tuesday, Duffy was punting with a group of candidates vying to replace the graduated David Bouvier as punt returner. Bowden, Ali, true freshman Travis Tisdale and redshirt freshman Akeem Hayes were among those shagging punts. Bowden is believed to be the favorite for that spot. Again, it’s another way to get the ball in his hands.