Posts from Saturday, April 25
Blue/White notes and quotes
Posted at 7:33 p.m. EDT – Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations
A lot of other things we can take out of Saturday’s Blue/White Game. First and foremost, it’s one scrimmage. While it’s extremely important in that it’s the last workout of the spring and can alter the depth chart somewhat, let’s not overdo everything and jump to too many conclusions.
Still, there were some things to take out of Saturday and the end of spring football practice (especially from a wide receiver perspective):
Softball makes history
Posted at 6:22 p.m. EDT - Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations
The hype surrounding Kentucky today was the football team and the Blue/White Game, but nobody had a more important day than the UK softball team.
Thanks to a two-run walk-off home run from Brittany Cervantes, the Wildcats swept Mississippi State 8-7 at the UK Softball Complex on Saturday. Coupled with South Carolina's loss Saturday, UK has clinched a berth in the Southeastern Conference Tournament for the first time since 2001.
As Coach Rachel Lawson told me the other day, making the tournament is an important step in the evolution of the budding program. The Wildcats have shown improvement the last few years, but progress is measured in postseason play, a place UK hasn't visited very frequently.
With Saturday's victory, UK is now assured of at least a game in the postseason, and quite possibly more. Given UK's RPI and strength of schedule, the Wildcats are on the cusp of making the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history.
For now, though, Lawson and her club will celebrate the historic sweep. UK has bigger goals that still lie ahead, but as Lawson said Thursday, a postseason berth is a mark of validation.
Fidler sparkles at spring game, puts himself back in quarterback race
Posted at 5:29 p.m. EDT - Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations
Mike Hartline might be the leader in the clubhouse, but Will Fidler appears to be making a late Sunday run on the back nine.
Fidler has certainly made a case to be in the mix for the starting quarterback position as Fidler's Blue team defeated Hartline's White team 28-23 Saturday afternoon at Commonwealth Stadium.
"He clearly closed the gap," UK Coach Rich Brooks said following the Blue/White Game. "There was a gap. I feel much, much better about Will Fidler after this scrimmage. Obviously he got the win, so he's the cock of the walk after today."
As Brooks said, there was a considerable gap heading into Saturday's annual scrimmage. The incumbent, Mike Hartline, hasn't looked like Brett Favre this spring, but given his AutoZone Liberty Bowl win and his experience as the starter, he looked like the odds-on favorite to battle two highly touted freshmen coming in this fall.
Move over, Hartline - you've got company.
On Filder's first drive of the afternoon, he marched the Blue team straight through the White defense and into the end zone. Fidler's 26-yard pass to wide receiver Randall Cobb completed a 12-play, 93-yard drive, mainly off the 6-of-8 passing from Filder.
"It felt really good," said Fidler, a junior from Henderson, Ky. "It was kind of a breakout scrimmage I hadn't had the rest of spring. It felt good to get in there and get some productivity on offense."
Between the hype of the incoming freshmen and the supposed security of Hartline, Fidler has been an afterthought. To come out and toss two touchdowns and pass for 110 yards must have felt a little more than good.
"There's no question (he's in the mix)," offensive coordinator Randy Sanders said.
Fidler said he's going to treat the summer the same as he did entering the spring. He said he's going to continue to compete and not really think about the other players.
But clearly, there was something different. Fidler said so himself.
"To be honest with you, I just wanted it really bad," Fidler said. "I turned my cell phone off all day yesterday and this morning and just concentrated on the scrimmage and watched some extra film. The defense played really well too and everybody around me played really well too."
True. In terms of experience and talent, it seemed like the Blue squad got the better end of the deal. Veterans Micah Johnson, Jeremy Jarmon and Trevard Lindley joined do-everything sophomore Randall Cobb on the Blue team, but that shouldn't overshadow Fidler's day.
But let's not get carried away here. After a strong start, Fidler did cool off. He was 6-of-8 to start the game, but he completed just four of his last 16 passes. And Hartline didn't play all that bad.
After a shaky start, Hartline finished the game 17-of-32 for 208 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. One was his fault on a poorly thrown deep ball - Brooks said his long passes continue to be his biggest problem - but the other came off a tipped pass.
"I thought Mike did some great things (and) I thought he did a couple of things that you kind of just look and say `Wow.' He did a few things I was disappointed in," Sanders said.
They both were the quintessential examples of what a spring game is all about. Mixed with first-, second- and third-team players, there were some good things at times, and downright ugly at others.
To be honest, other than Fidler's hot start, he didn't wow either, but he did close the gap. That's good news, folks. Competition fosters better play, and that's something this Kentucky football program didn't always have.
Fidler proved he can throw the pigskin as well and brought some excitement to what was already a record day (20,200 showed up for the game, the second largest on record).
Now both quarterbacks will enter the spring a little bit closer, but a little bit better. Once the fall comes around, two more highly touted quarterbacks will join the race to become the top signal caller for the Wildcats.
That makes four quarterbacks who could potentially lead this team (need I throw in a fifth in Randall Cobb?). When was the last time UK had that type of talent and depth?
The only shame is that with the end of this game comes a four-month wait to see what will materialize in the fall.
Full game story from Jeremy Strachan will be on the homepage shortly ...