Kentucky concludes spring practice today with its annual Blue White game. The contest kicks off at 6pm at Commonwealth and is free to the public. Parking is first come, first served and all the normal tailgating rules apply. The first 5,000 attendees (read: everyone) will receive a poster commemorating Kentucky's historic win again the Tennessee Volunteers last year.
The WIldcats have tinkered with the formula of the spring game several times in recent years, but this game will be first string (Blue) v. the rest of the squad (White), as it was in 2011. Recent years have seen offense v. defense (with a defensive "scoring" component) and true split squad scrimmage tilts. The latter made for a fun game a couple of years ago, but the Cats don't have the depth to pull it off right now. As with last year, the second string will begin with a 14-0 lead.
Last year's attendance was a paltry 4,000, last in the SEC. The weather was awful that evening, and it was a miracle the Cats got the game in. It is nasty in Lexington now, but there is little chance of rain in the forecast tonight. Kickoff temperature should be in the 50s. So, perfect football weather awaits those of you willing to come out and support the team. For those of you who don't, I'll have a full report up tomorrow.
Click through for some things to look for in tonight's game.
1. Max Smith's efficiency. Today is Max Smith's day to shine. Playing against what should be a fairly weak second string SEC defense, he has no excuse not to put up numbers. A pedestrian performance will not be a good sign. Lately, when people find out about this little avocation of mine, I'm usually asked one of two questions. "How many games are we going to win next year?" and "Will Patrick Towles have a chance to start?" Today might not hold many clues as to the first question, but should tell us a lot about the second. I've said all along that this will be Max Smith's team if he keeps his passes on target and moves the chains. If he can't do that tonight against this competition, the job will have to be wide open in the fall.
2. Intensity. I cannot remember a Kentucky team where so few positions were up for grabs. A few guys know they'll be starting come fall, including our whole offensive line and most of the defensive front seven. The lack of competition could lead to complacency. If there is one thing this team can't afford, it's that. To reach a bowl, the Cats will need eleven guys going HAM at all times. I'll be watching to see what kind of fire these guys bring tonight. After all, the spring game is their last chance to hit somebody for several months.
3. Wide Receiver play. Joker has praised Daryl Collins and Demarco Robinson throughout the spring. La'Rob King is a known quantity by now. A good SEC receiver, but by no means a star. E.J. Fields and Gene McCaskill have had star-crossed careers and it is hard to tell where they'll fit in. No matter who plays quarterback, the Cats will need playmakers to have a shot in their SEC games. I want to see the young'uns go off tonight.
4. Defensive domination. With Morgan Newton out and Towles not yet on campus, the reigns of the second string offense fall to EKU transfer Jacob Russell. Russell is no scrub, but will be playing behind an outmanned offensive line. If our starting D doesn't dominate tonight, it is cause for alarm.
5. The Safeties. One position to watch will be safety, where there certainly is competition. Incumbents Mickie Benton and Martavius Neloms are starting for now, but Ashley Lowery is a comer and Glenn Faulkner was last year's most highly touted recruit. As I've pointed out before, Neloms will be on the field somewhere in the fall, but it could be at corner, where he played as a freshman and may be more comfortable. From there, things are up for grabs. I look for Lowery to show us something tonight.
6. Marcus Caffey. After moving over from running back this semester, Caffey was immediately tabbed a starting corner. If you are reading the tea leaves, there are a couple of different conclusions you could draw from that. The proof is in the pudding, though.
7. Alvin Dupree. If Kentucky's next defensive star is on campus, it is this guy. Expect him to be all over the field.
I hope to see you out there tonight. Joker and Co. could use the support of BBN.
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