LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) — The Kentucky football team was soaring following its second preseason scrimmage Saturday at Kroger Field.
Unlike last week’s scrimmage, this one produced rave reviews from the coaches and players. Standout running back Benny Snell said the team’s performance a week ago served as a motivation to get better within a seven-day window and the Wildcats did just that.
“The team felt like Superman today,” Snell said. “We did a lot of great things. We had a lot of movement from the offensive line, the two’s did a great job, guys stepped it up. I (saw) a lot (of good things). I’m very happy with where we are as an offense.”
Even Kentucky coach Mark Stoops was in a better week after declaring the first mock contest of fall camp was unacceptable and demanded more from his team last week.
“(It) was very good work today,” Stoops said. “I was pleased. We’ve gotten a lot of work done this past week and come out and had a good scrimmage. … Overall, (I) very pleased with the work that got done, in particular offensively. I thought we really had a really good mentality about us today. Really mixed it up well, ran the ball, threw it, play action. They did a lot of things good and had a great urgency and did a really good job.”
Snell said the biggest difference between the two scrimmages as Kentucky’s attitude, especially on offense. He added that have a full and healthy squad intact also was helpful.”
“Guys definitely stepped up it from last week,” he said. “… We were banged up (last week) and we have some guys back now and we were able to execute. … we were scoring every time in the red zone and I’m impressed. I’m very happy.”
Stoops was pleased with the performances of his two quarterbacks — Gunnar Hoak and Terry Wilson. Stoops isn’t prepared to name a starter, but will likely settle on a starter by Aug. 27, six days ahead of Kentucky’s season opener against Central Michigan set for 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 1 at Kroger Field.
“I think we have to settle in and see where we’re going to go,” Stoops said. “We wanted to wait with totally open minds through this scrimmage and give them all equal opportunity. We were very close on the snaps. I think we’re about dead even with Terry and Gunnar. We have to look at this film. They both did some good things today. The offense in general moved the ball pretty good, so that’s good that they both did good things and look good. We’ll zero in on that probably as you get closer to the Monday of game week.”
Snell also was more active following limited duty a week ago. Snell caught a few passes in the open field, but missed one that he said would have been a touchdown.
“It was a basically a pass,” he said. “I had a wheel on the sideline and it was one of those where I had it …and I didn’t eye it in. I tried to guess and I dropped it. It was going to be like a 40-yard touchdown (catch). I dropped it, but I made up for it, though. I always make up for my mistakes.”
Stoops wasn’t as optimistic with his team’s defense, which he said is getting “very, very thin defensively at certain positions.” Linebacker Jordan Jones was been limited because of nagging injuries. Chris Oats, a freshman, has been getting more repetitions with the both the first- and second-team unit.
“Defensively (the scrimmage) was hard to judge,” Stoops said. “(We were) just very inconsistent at times. (We've) got to look at the film and see where it was just very good execution offensively or not doing so well defensively. … (with the injuries) we knew it was going to look quite ugly at a few positions going (into the scrimmage) and it was. (We’ve) got to get some guys healthy and get a solid two-deep point. That was hard to do today for the defensive side of the ball.”
Kentucky linebacker Kash Daniel said the offense “just played good” and “made plays.” He added that not having a full plate intact on defense during the scrimmage was “difficult” but didn’t want it to be an excuse.
“(When guys) go down, (the other guys) here for a reason to, they’ve got to step up and make plays, including myself,” he said. “You read my body language right now and think we must’ve had a terrible scrimmage, but that’s not the case.
“I beat myself up more than anything and I put some of it on myself in a way that if I feel like we made some mistakes here or there, it’s my fault because I’m the leader, I’m the dude in the middle, so I’ve got to be a leader and get those dudes right in every area. I’ve got to get myself right. I’ve got to get the linebacker room right and we’ve got to get everybody right.”
Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter @keithtaylor21.