Friday Night Lights For 2017 Blue/White Spring Game

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Friday Night Lights For 2017 Blue/White Spring Game

Photo: Andrew Bishop,

Friday night lights.   When you hear that phrase,  you automatically think of high school football in Kentucky.  But for this one night in April, the Friday night lights were on at Commonwealth Stadium as the Wildcats took the field for the 2017 Blue/White Spring Game.

We know the annual spring scrimmage doesn’t give us a lot of insight into the team we will see this fall, but it does provide plenty of positives.  For the fans, it’s an opportunity to meet up with tailgate buddies and enjoy a construction-free parking lot for the first time in a couple of years.  For the coaches, they get to see the fruits of the team’s labor during the spring practice period.  For the media, it’s additional material for upcoming stories (we can always use that).

Photo: Andrew Bishop,

Let’s take a look at what we learned from this scrimmage:

  • Benny Snell Jr. is still very good.   Even with limited touches, Snell was very efficient.  He rushed, he received, he impressed.
  • Don’t sleep on Sihiem King.  While he saw little playing time last year (mostly on kick returns), it wasn’t due to a lack of talent.  With the departure of Boom Williams and JoJo Kemp, this can be King’s time to shine.    He has excellent speed and should be a great complement to Snell.
  • We will miss Jon Toth at center, but Bunchy Stallings appears to be ready to take over the reins here.  Drake Jackson was pretty decent as well, but Stallings appears to be the clear leader in the battle of the centers.
  • We have a lot of talent on defense.  Don’t get me wrong:  that talent needs a lot of practice to be efficient, but the pieces are there along with a new defensive coordinator in Matt House who served as Special Teams Coordinator in 2016.
  • Breathing room exists at the quarterback position.   After Drew Barker went down with a back injury last season thrusting Stephen Johnson into the starting role, every game seemed to have fans holding their breath all 4 quarters, willing Johnson to escape unscathed.  This year, we have a healthy SJ and we have Gunnar Hoak who had a very nice outing in the Blue/White game.  We also have Drew Barker who is still recovering from back surgery but says he is around 75% now.  This is not to suggest we should have a quarterback controversy.  Far from it, actually.  The job is Johnson’s.  He has a proven track record and he can win in the SEC.  Barring injury or just grossly inadequate play, Hoak and Barker shouldn’t expect to start games.  However, it’s very likely they will get some snaps to get more real game experience.
  • Austin MacGinnis will do a fine job on kickoffs and field goal attempts.  He’s steady and has proven he can make the plays under pressure (remember his heroics versus Mississippi State last year?).
  • Grant McKinnis does not appear to have improved on his punting since last season.   None of his punts in the scrimmage were especially good.  More troubling is that those punts were made without being rushed as would happen in a real game.   Hopefully, reinforcements will arrive before the season begins.

Photo: Andrew Bishop,

All in all, it was a fun evening at Commonwealth Stadium.  The players were clearly having fun and spent a great deal of time with fans after the scrimmage ended.  But the astute fan will remember to not take too much stock in what happened on the field.  After all, it’s only April and much can happen between now and September.  But if I were a gambler, I’d put my money on the Cats having another very successful football season in 2017.

Follow me on Twitter @ForeverBigBlue






Michele Brown
Michele Brown
Writer at since Feb. 2015 Co-host of Big Blue Views podcast. Mom, Christian, sports junkie, golf addict and speed typist. I can cook your mama's food better than she can.

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