Wildcats Have Final Scrimmage . . .

Aug. 29, 2009

LEXINGTON, Ky. -  The final preseason scrimmage for the 2009 Kentucky football team featured some nice performances by the Wildcat running backs, coinciding with some poor tackling by the second- and third-team defensive units, Coach Rich Brooks said Saturday afternoon.

The Wildcats scrimmaged for one hour, 45 minutes on the artificial field-turf surface at the Tim Couch Practice Fields, a similar surface on which the team will play the season opener in Cincinnati's Paul Brown Stadium.

The format featured the first-team offense against second-team defense, second-team offense vs. first-team defense, and the third-team units against each other.  All facets of special teams were practiced, along with goal-line and two-minute drills.

“We had a lot of big, long scoring plays today, except against our first-string defense, they did not give one of those up,” Brooks said.  “Some sloppy tackling, some big plays.  (Donald) Russell and Dakotah Tyler made some good runs as well as Derrick Locke broke a long one and didn't get caught today.  Moncell Allen ran well.  Alfonso (Smith) broke a good run.  I thought the backs performed pretty well.”

Here are some additional thoughts from Brooks:

  • UK already has begun specific preparation for Miami, but Brooks admits that it is guesswork because of the new RedHawk coaching staff.   
  • On his overall thoughts on the team heading into the season: “I know we're a better team than we were, the same thing I've said since the start of fall camp.  But what I say and what we do are two different things.  We have to go out and prove that.”
  • Brooks said that wide receivers Chris Matthews and Randall Cobb continue to play well.  Cobb went through the scrimmage and appeared to be in good shape after missing time recently because of back problems.
  • On quarterback Mike Hartline:  “He did some really good things (in the scrimmage), hit some nice balls.  Had one or two that I'd like for him to have over, but overall he's had a very good fall camp and today was pretty much in that vein.”
  • On the middle linebackers in the absence of senior Micah Johnson, who has an injured foot: “(Ronnie) Sneed did some good things.  We know what Mikhail can do, he's been around here a long time.  I think some of the younger guys got a lot of action today and it's hard to tell until we look at the tape exactly how they did.  We could interchange some of those guys.  Antonio Thomas took reps at quite a few places today in that linebacker rotation.  Ridge Wilson and Will Johnson did the same thing.  It will be interesting to see how those guys actually did.  They showed up, but they probably made some mistakes, so we need to clean those things up.”
  • On the offensive line's push in the run game during preseason practice: “It's been a little bit hit and miss, but it's clear that we have a little bit more presence up front physically than we did a year ago.”
  • On tight end T.C. Drake: “T.C. looked the best he's looked all fall since he pulled that groin.  Hartline hit him down the middle of the field on a long pass.  He did some good things.  He still, assignment-wise, needs to clean up some things.  He's making too many mistakes for my liking right now.”
  • On injuries during the scrimmage: “We got more bumps and bruises.  The next 48 hours will tell me if any of them are serious.  We don't think any of them are at this point.”
  • On the advantage of having some tall receivers, such as 6-5 Chris Matthews, 6-5 Matt Roark and 6-4 La'Rod King: “It really helps us when we go forward defending those kind of receivers with our defensive backs because they get to work against tall guys and they've done it all fall camp.  The other thing is that it gives us an advantage we haven't had in the height category going against smaller DBs.”

The Wildcats move into will have a light practice on Sunday and take their normal day off on Monday before returning to full pads on Tuesday.  Kentucky will take on the Miami RedHawks on Sat. Sept. 5 in Cincinnati.  The game will be a live telecast on ESPNU beginning at noon.

New SEC TV Shows: The beginning of the new Southeastern Conference television contract means more opportunities to see the league.  Here are the new weekly shows highlighting the SEC:

  • SEC Gridiron Live – Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on Fox Sports South, Fox Sports Southwest, Fox Sports Houston and Sun Sports.  The hosts are Charles Davis, Randy Cross, David Pollack and Cassidy Hubbarth.
  • SEC Weekly – Thursdays at 4:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU.  Hosts are Cara Capuano and Matt Stinchcomb.