Head coach Mark Stoops
Offensive coordinator Neal Brown
Offensive coordinator Neal Brown
Wednesday's Kentucky football practice marked the final day of the "preseason" portion of fall camp. The Wildcats turn their attention exclusively to preparing for the season opener against Western Kentucky next Saturday, Aug. 31.
Yes, as hard as it may be to believe, the first game week of the 2013 season - at least in the eyes of the Kentucky coaching staff and players - begins on Thursday.
Wednesday's practice session saw the Wildcats looking to improve from the second full scrimmage of fall camp, which took place the day before in Commonwealth Stadium.
"Went a little lighter than usual today and really just wrapped up some corrections from the scrimmage yesterday," head coach Mark Stoops said. "Just cleaning up things, and we'll get started on Western tomorrow. So overall, pretty mellow day. Wasn't a whole lot to talk about as far as anything major happening out there today. Just some basic clean-up work."
With game week getting under way on Thursday the team's attention will shift from honing broad principles of scheme and technique to executing a game plan for Western Kentucky.
Stoops admitted his staff will take into account film of the Hilltoppers from last season as well some of the teams that first year Western Kentucky head coach Bobby Petrino led.
"We'll get started on that tonight," Stoops said of looking at opponent game film. "But yes, that definitely comes to mind. I want to say both coordinators have had a lot of time to kind of reinvent themselves if they choose . . . It will be somewhat of an unknown.
"I think both of them have some staples that they've done throughout their careers and been very successful. So we'll have to prepare for a lot of things. And the good thing is with our offense, they've done a lot, whether it be through spring and through here, trying to always look for new wrinkles. So we've seen a lot of different styles through camp."
Offensive coordinator Neal Brown reflected on his unit's performance for the first time since the second scrimmage.
"We played much better," Brown said of Tuesday's workout in CWS. "We didn't make the mistakes that hurt us the week before. We didn't have the unforced errors. I don't think we turned the ball over, either with a pick or a fumble . . . Our penalties were way down. And we didn't have the dropped passes."
In the two days since the coaching staff announced the quarterback battle was down to two signal callers - Maxwell Smith and Jalen Whiltlow - who are both likely to see action in the season opener, Neal Brown elaborated on what factored into the decision.
In the staff's eyes the two quarterbacks have plenty of time to separate themselves, and Brown singled out production as the biggest factor in naming a starter.
"There was some separation there, as far as, we've basically been tracking everything they've done," the offensive coordinator said of narrowing down the quarterback competition to two. "I guess it was 31 or 32 practices, I think. Basically chart any competitive situation we've been in. We charted how they've done with the ones, how they've done with the twos, completion percentages, any statistic you can possibly think of. And those two, their numbers were better and their productivity was better."
Stoops and Brown also intimated that a lot of young wide receivers will see the field this season, with freshman Ryan Timmons pushing Darryl Collins for a start at the "H" spot as a receiver spending a lot of time in motion and out of the slot.
"A lot of the wideouts, they're going to play," Stoops said. "Whether they start and all that, we'll figure it out. We're still battling through that."
Indeed much of the Wildcat depth chart, including the quarterback position, remains fluid with just 10 days remaining before the Wildcats come out of the tunnel at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn.