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UK battles through minor injuries at good Monday practice

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Post-practice interview with Stoops


UK began the final week of spring on Monday, holding its 12th practice.

With just five days before the Blue/White Scrimmage on April 26, head coach Mark Stoops continues to like his team's direction.

"I think we're improving, competing," Stoops said. "Had a good third-down period today. So overall, we're still grinding it out, getting better and better each day. I like where we're going."

The only exception is on the injury front.

"Just getting some guys nicked up, and that's starting to bother me," Stoops said. "Nothing major -- I don't think anything major. Just guys that are going to be nicked up and maybe miss this last part of spring practice here."

That's frustrating to Stoops for a couple reasons, first because the improving Wildcats can use all the work they can get.

"We just need it," Stoops said. "You know, we have the spring, we have time to get guys back, but you're trying to find that good balance where you're getting good work in and competing as hard as we can, with staying healthy just so we can have good practices."

Stoops also has the fans in mind when he considers the Cats' bumps and bruises because of the upcoming Spring Game.

"A lot of it's for the fans," Stoops said. "And you want to get out there and put a good product on the field and have some fun. But we need to see where we're at."

UK's already thin receiving corps has been hit hard, the latest blow coming as sophomore Jeff Badet twisted an ankle on Monday. The Cats have been without Javess Blue and Alexander Montgomery throughout the spring, while Ryan Timmons, Thaddeus Snodgrass and Joey Herrick are contending with minor injuries.

"We're banged up a little bit at wideout," offensive coordinator Neal Brown said. "Well, we're thin. Our numbers aren't where they should be. We've got to get -- we need more scholarship wideouts, we need more walk-on wideouts. We've got help coming. ... I think we're probably a year away from getting this thing, from a numbers standpoint, where it needs to be. We were grossly thin getting here, then we had some injuries this spring that definitely haven't helped."

The depth at receiver has added a wrinkle to the ongoing competition at quarterback between Patrick Towles, Reese Phillips and Drew Barker. Brown has had to adjust on the fly to get them the work they need.

"That's why we were out here doing some extra work with me and (graduate assistant) Tyler (Sargent) catching the ball," Brown said. "Just because we don't have enough -- the quarterbacks aren't getting enough work right now, so we've got to build it in pre-practice and post-practice stuff to make sure they're getting enough reps of the stuff we're going to run."

Brown on Monday practice



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