The Kentucky Wildcats wrapped up a productive spring season with the annual Blue-White Game, which did not disappoint.
The Blue Team consisted of mainly starters while the White Team was mostly backups. It was a game the Blue thoroughly dominated from the start, as they took a 38-7 lead into the halftime break thanks to a big half by Terry Wilson, Lynn Bowden and Kavosiey Smoke.
The second half was more of the same, as the Blue Team poured it on en route to a 64-10 victory. Here are five things to know from the game:
Wilson and Bowden Sustain Chemistry
Both quarterback Terry Wilson and wide receiver Lynn Bowden are entering their junior year of college and their second year of connecting through the air on the football field. Last season, Bowden was the Southeastern Conference’s breakout performer as one of the better wideouts in the nation.
The two Kentucky stars were on record more than a few times, echoing each other’s respect for the other and voicing the strong chemistry the two share.
On Friday, it was more than evident that the two haven’t missed a beat as they connected three times for 61 yards, including a 41-yard score in the first quarter.
Terry Wilson airs it out to Lynn Bowden for the touchdown. pic.twitter.com/YL2JWwuMvo— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) April 12, 2019
But the real story was how well Wilson played overall, throwing some beautiful deep balls that bode well for next season.
Terry Wilson shows off that arm again finding Isaiah Epps deep. pic.twitter.com/RPZnFyOgAY— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) April 12, 2019
Wilson finished the game completing 10/12 passes overall for 191 yards and two touchdown passes. He also ran for 15 yards on two runs, but it was clear tonight was all about establishing the passing game with the junior signal caller.
With Benny Snell Jr. and his record-setting touchdown career departing the program, ‘twill be on both Bowden and Wilson to put up points through the air this season.
Starting Defense Holds Their Ground
After mentioning Snell’s departure, it’s only fitting to recognize the amount of holes left by departing players on the defensive side of the football. Top five NFL prospect Josh Allen, All-SEC safety Mike Edwards, Derrick Baity and Lonnie Johnson were just a handful of veteran defenders who played their last game for Kentucky back on New Years Day.
Despite the fact the starters were facing second and third stringers, ‘twas comforting to see the starting defense more than hold their ground, especially with Kash Daniel sitting out.
In comparison to last season, the defense should take a step back (and rightfully so). However, the unit still has a few playmakers than can get the job done, and we saw some nice glimpses of that tonight.
Rose Lights Out in Debut
Snell’s departure left just as big (if not bigger) shoes to fill as Allen’s. Luckily for Kentucky’s sake, running back Asim Rose was a key contributor in last season’s offensive scheme.
On Friday, the standout running back more than excelled in his starting debut by tallying 86 yards and three scores on just 11 carries.
AJ Rose breaks out to a long gain. pic.twitter.com/rAKPCbTNJH— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) April 12, 2019
Kentucky will most likely focus less on the ground game this season, but Rose’s ability to break out in the open field while also catching passes out of the backfield should be an exceptional asset to the explosive tandem of Bowden and Wilson.
But Don’t Sleep on Smoke
After a redshirt season, expectations were high for Kavosiey Smoke entering Year 2 in Lexington, and he did not disappoint. After a productive spring, Smoke capped it off with a big showing in the Blue-White Game, highlighted by an 87-yard scoring run. He finished with 132 yards and two scores on just five carries.
Smoke left no doubt he’s the No. 2 running back going into the summer, and don’t be surprised if he forces UK to make this a timeshare with Rose next season. Both players look fully capable of making noise in the SEC.
Oliver Breaks Out
One of the biggest offseason questions for Kentucky has been who would step up at receiver to take pressure off of Lynn Bowden.
Today, we saw some nice moments from Josh Ali, Isaiah Epps and Ahmad Wagner, but it was redshirt freshman Bryce Oliver who made not one but two highlight-reel grabs.
Bryce Oliver with an excellent catch. pic.twitter.com/RWjucNZGht— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) April 12, 2019
He also hauled in a touchdown from Gunnar Hoak on the broken play while finishing with eight grabs for 108 yards as he played for both teams:
Bryce Oliver continues to look impressive. pic.twitter.com/vUk9D4sbj8— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) April 12, 2019
Even more impressive was that Oliver made these players against the starting defense. We haven’t heard much of Oliver since he arrived in Lexington as one of the lowest-ranked members of the 2018 class, but it’s clear he will be a factor at wide receiver this season.