Spring football scrimmages typically wind up with a clear winner and loser when they pit offense versus defense, as Kentucky did Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium.
Jonathan George had an impressive scrimmage for the offense. (TCP Photo by Jeff Drummond)
No official score was kept on this day, but most observers agreed the Wildcats' two units battled to a draw.
"One of the things I wanted to do was to come out and have success early," said UK offensive coordinator Randy Sanders, whose white squad drove down the field on its first possession for an impressive touchdown drive engineered by junior quarterback Morgan Newton. "Once we did that, there were a lot of things I wanted to test, so I kind of spent the rest of the scrimmage trying to test a few things, to see what a few of our running backs could do, to see what Morgan could handle and what the receivers could do. There was a lot of positives out of it, and a lot of things to learn from."
The first-team offense marched down the field on the strength of plays like a 25-yard pass from Newton to tailback Raymond Sanders, a nice cutback by Sanders for a gain of 20, and a 15-yard pass from Newton to receiver Matt Roark. Sanders capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run.
The first-team offense unable to match that execution on their other four sets, though, as the defense rebounded to win the back end of the scrimmage. New UK defensive coordinator Rick Minter says the Cats must come ready from the start of their next scrimmage.
"I told them if that's the way we're going to play, we're going to be down in a hole (by) seven or 10 or 14 right off the bat," he said. "We've got to start faster than that.
"The lights came on today for the first time for a lot of our guys who have never played, and it showed. The tempo, the intensity, it's not what it is in practice. We tried to treat it as a game as far as our mental preparation goes, so we've got a lot of work to do"
Minter added that he was pleased with the Cats' effort, but wants to see better preparation and execution the next time out. "We've got to make every practice count."
The second-team offense also scored on its opening possession, thanks in large part to the power running of sophomore tailback Jonathan George. He would add a second touchdown later in the scrimmage to make perhaps the strongest statement of any individual skilled player on the day.
"He was definitely one of our top two backs from what I saw today," Sanders said. "Those other guys better make some progress quick, or they'll be smelling diesel fumes in the fall.
"He runs physical, he runs hard. He doesn't always make the right cut or the right read on a run, but when you've got a guy who runs that hard, hopefully you can teach him to do the rest."
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