What we learned during Kentucky’s spring practice

NCAA Football: Kentucky at Mississippi State

SDS will be taking a tour around the conference and looking at each team’s progress – or lack thereof – made during spring camp. Finishing us up is Kentucky.

Here’s what we learned during Kentucky’s spring practice:

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One to beat: Mark Stoops has a leading quarterback in Patrick Towles. Towles had the best spring up to the spring game, because he got the starting nod with the first-team offense, and he had the best Blue-White Game. Towles’ improvement is obvious, and he set out to make himself a better player over the last two years. Remember, he was once the top in-state get who had a big future, as compared to the highly anticipated Drew Barker. Barker and Reese Phillips both trail Towles heading into fall camp, but plenty of time remains for Barker or Phillips to nab the starting job. But one things is clear: Towles is leading exiting spring practice.

UK has more than 99 problems, but a running game isn’t one: You like my rapping skills? That’s about as far as I’ll take it. You’re welcome. Simply put: UK is almost loaded with running back talent. Returners Jojo Kemp and Josh Clemons combine with early enrollee Mikel Horton and Nebraska transfer Braylon Heard to create a sexy backfield. Kemp looks faster than last year, and he’s a smooth operator in the open field, while Heard is the most anticipated of the bunch. All four flashed speed and athleticism in the Blue-White Game. Interestingly enough, Kentucky wants to toss the rock, but the running game is too good to not make it the biggest weapon.

Offensive questions: Two questions I have on offense are the offensive line and the receivers. Pass catchers are plentiful right now, and just how much Neal Brown decides to throw it around depends on the receivers who emerge. The offensive line gave up the most sacks last season, averaging over three per game. The receiving unit is in much better shape than the offensive line.

Bookends: Za’Darius Smith was a monster in the spring game, and his screen pass INT was a thing of beauty. Smith and Bud Dupree have big seasons in front of them. With MLB Avery Williamson gone, Smith and Dupree assume a lot of leadership on the Cats’ defense.

Let’s break down the biggest takeaways of every spring practice:

Photo Credit: Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

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