The annual Blue-White Spring Game really isn’t about the quality of the football being played. It signals the end of winter (one hopes), allows some tailgate friendships to be renewed briefly, and it gives fans a glimpse of the Kentucky Wildcats that will be taking the field later this fall.
For the 16,665 fans in attendance, there was the opportunity to get a picture with the Governor’s Cup and Citrus Bowl trophies prior to the game. Since there was no Cat Walk, the trophies provided a nice alternative to get in game mode and to celebrate last season’s accomplishments one more time.
Friday night’s game was a return to a more traditional format
When you look at the final score, 64-10 with Blue on top, it becomes apparent little defense was being played. Coach Mark Stoops noted after the game:
But I was not pleased with just the competitive nature of some of our players and that needs to change. I don’t care who you are, what team you are, what you’re doing, when you go out on that field you better have a competitive spirit about you and competitive nature. And I didn’t see some guys competing at the level that we expect.
… I mean, I talked all week and I talked to them before the game, I talked to them at halftime about respecting the game. And every time you put the pads on you’re to play it one way. And there’s never an excuse to fundamentally not play the game the way it’s supposed to be played.
(Asked if there was a need for an emotional leader) No, I think it’s individually they need to take it upon themselves to be responsible for their own outcome. And there’s no cheerleaders out there. When you’re working like we work and grind it through the spring and out there in practice they need to take it upon themselves to individually play the game the way it’s meant to be played. And if you can’t do it, then you can’t play at this level.
But let’s turn to more positive things, like the offense. Terry Wilson was 10-12 for 191 yards and 2 touchdowns. A 60-yard pass to Isaiah Epps was his long throw of the evening. Gunnar Hoak also had a nice evening, at least when playing with the Blue team. He went 14-15 for 174 yards and 2 touchdowns. His numbers on the White team were not as impressive, going 9-15 for 88 yards.
In addition to Epps, Lynn Bowden, Bryce Oliver, and Justin Rigg had solid receiving yards. Epps had 97, Bowden 66, Oliver 42, and Rigg with 40. Oliver also had some reps on the White team, tallying 5 more catches for 63 yards. Again, keeping in mind that defense wasn’t really providing a lot of resistance, it was very encouraging to see both QBs hitting their targets with such consistency.
Perhaps one of the most promising things I learned tonight was, when talking with Bowden and Wilson after the game, a great chemistry exists between these 2 players. Bowden said of Wilson, “You don’t know how much better he is now. He is MY quarterback and I would take him over any quarterback in the country.” When I shared that quote with Wilson and asked him what his reaction was, he had a huge smile as he replied, “I feel the same way about him and I would take him over any receiver out there.” I think these 2 Cats are looking to make a lot of big plays in the upcoming season.
Of course, the real question most of the BBN had is what would the running game look like without the record-setting Benny Snell, Jr.? Well, it would appear the Cats could have a very potent 1-2 punch with A.J. Rose and Kavosiey Smoke. Rose had 11 carries for 86 yards and 3 touchdowns and stated after the game his goal was to “break Benny’s record.” I’d say that is a pretty ambitious goal, but it’s great to have a player that sets their sights high. As for Smoke, he was determined to prove he wasn’t all power and that speed was also part of his game. He had only 5 carries, but he covered 132 yards and had 2 touchdowns.
Fans also got a sneak peek at what will become a new tradition at Kroger Field this season:
It was a beautiful night and, though basketball season has barely ended, it served to get folks pumped up for football. But now how on earth are we going to pass the time until September?
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