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Kentucky Football: 5 takeaways from media day

Stoops and co. talk about the quarterback battle, the front seven, kickers and more.

Alec Usleaman - Sea of Blue

Mark Stoops and his players previewed camp and the season on Friday as part of the team’s annual media day tradition.

The Wildcats are upbeat as the season approaches. Stoops talked about a wide range of topics, including the promising prospects of the front seven and the quarterback battle.

The players talked about a wide range of topics as well, which included the excellence of running back Benny Snell.

Here are the top five takeaways from the comments made at media day.

Keep Josh Paschal in your thoughts

The promising young defensive end/linebacker has malignant melanoma in his foot, Stoops announced Friday. It was the foot that Paschal had surgery on, and he had another operation Wednesday.

Paschal and the team are waiting for the results to come back, though it’s probably safe to think we won’t be seeing him on the field anytime soon. It’s unfortunate for Paschal, who has obvious NFL talent, so here’s to hoping he gets healthy and still gets to live out those dreams someday.

Coach John Schlarman is also dealing with a health issue, Stoops announced, but they don’t yet know the nature of the issue.

The quarterbacks are battling—and getting along

This year’s quarterback battle is anything but clear cut. The likely favorite is JUCO transfer Terry Wilson, but Gunnar Hoak is in the mix as well. Stoops said right now he thinks he’ll work both of them in early.

“You’ve heard me say it, I’m honest about it, but I think at that position you get a good feel for what you have but until you get to a game, you’re not exactly 100 percent sure and that’s not different in many places, not different in the NFL in my opinion,” Stoops said. “Until those guys get under center and get playing and get those game reps, you’re a bit unsure. I think it’s fair to both of those guys to give them an opportunity because it’s very close at this time.”

The quarterbacks seem to be getting along just fine, despite the battle, according to a video posted by Kentucky Sports Radio’s Nick Roush on Twitter.

The quest to replace Austin MacGinnis

MacGinnis was perhaps the greatest kicker in Kentucky football history. He was clutch, he was consistent and he put his name into the record books. It’s a battle that might not be as high profile as the quarterback battle, but it’s still an extremely important position for the Cats.

“Miles (Butler) has been very reliable,” Stoops said. “A couple years ago when Austin was hurt, he did some kicking for us. He filled in punting for us last year and did a very good job. Miles will have a good opportunity, and of course, Chance Poore, with him coming in, a freshman with a very strong leg. So we’ll see how that plays out through camp.”

The front seven has its strengths

Stoops was very high on the linebackers and defensive line unit. He talked specifically about Kash Daniel, who has become a leader on the defensive side of the ball.

“I was very pleased with the way he’s taken charge of the defense,” Stoops said. “He’s passionate about it. There’s no doubt about it. He’s going to give you everything he has but he has good command of the defense. He’s playing very well, playing very confident and I’m excited about Kash.”

He also had specific praise for the guys up front.

“These guys have played,” Stoops said. “We have some experience. We have the addition of a few new guys: Guys like Phil Hoskins, Adrian Middleton has played for a long time. You’ve heard me talk about Quinton and what he brings in the middle of our defense at nose, and Adrian has played a lot of football.”

Benny Snell can continue his record book rewriting

Snell has already established himself as one of the all-time great Kentucky running backs. He’s going to have high expectations in his junior year, but his teammates and coach feel he is up to the challenge and up to the workload. Stoops said it’s not hard to overplay Snell because he can handle it.

“He wants -- he doesn’t want to come out of the game,” Stoops said. “He wants to put the team on his shoulders and you love that mentality and that’s good with us.”

Drew Franklin pointed out the high praise he earned from his teammates as well.

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