Kentucky’s important spring concludes Saturday in the Blue and White Game. Following a 2-10 inaugural season, Mark Stoops is rebuilding the entire Kentucky roster, and he’s turning top prospects’ heads on the recruiting trail. With a splash of new talent and development of other prospects, things are looking up for the Wildcats in 2014, though it will be tricky getting the right mix of veteran and new talent.
Last year, Kentucky had 50,831 fans show up for the spring game, and this year, 37,000 tickets have already been distributed for the game. Here’s what we’ll be watching Saturday:
Now that Jalen Whitlow is out of the way and transferred out, the job comes down to early enrollee Drew Barker, Patrick Towles or Reese Phillips. Max Smith has been out for most of spring recovering from an injury. It’s anyone’s game, although the coaching staff would likely love for one player to take the job and create separation. That hasn’t happened yet. Saturday will give us some indication which player exits spring the leader under center.
Heard ‘round the world
Kentucky’s backfield is very attractive. Rising sophomore Jojo Kemp is a nice player, among others, but we’ll get the first look at Nebraska transfer Braylon Heard in a UK uniform. Outside of the quarterbacks, Heard is the Cats’ most important player. He rushed for 452 yards and one touchdown in two seasons with Nebraska, and he’ll easily be a focal point of the offense.
Banged up receivers
Neal Brown wants to run his true Air Raid offense, but the Wildcats will have a number of receivers injured Saturday. Ryan Timmons, Thaddeus Snodgrass, Joey Herrick and Jeff Badet are all banged up, and receiver depth is rather thin. With a lack of receivers, it could be detrimental to an accurate judgment of the quarterbacks during the game.
The secondary is a point of concern for the Cats’ defense, and newcomer AJ Stamps has turned heads this spring. The JUCO prospect could figure into a prominent role this fall. The Cats’ defense was tied for last nationally with just three INTs last season. Creating turnovers is something Kentucky must live on, and Stamps could make an immediate impact come fall.
Photo Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports