Spring practice is in the books for the Kentucky Wildcats football team. After a final scrimmage this past Saturday, the team will be heading into the summer with some sense of what type of team they will trot out onto the field against Louisiana Monroe on September 4th.
In what was another different spring practice for the books, especially after there wasn’t really one last year due to COVID-19, here are five takeaways from the last five weeks in Lexington.
Joey Gatewood separates himself
The quarterback battle is by far the number one thing everyone was trying to follow this spring. With new offensive coordinator Liam Coen putting in his new scheme, it gave both Joey Gatewood and Beau Allen a clean slate to come in and prove they could be the starter come the first week of the season.
In everyone’s mind, Beau Allen was going to be the guy that separated himself this spring. Well, from different rumblings coming out of the program, it is actually Joey Gatewood who separated himself form the pack. Last season, Gatewood threw for 109 yards on 17-35 passing for a 48.6 completion percentage.
If you had to ask me today, though, I would say that the starting quarterback for next season still isn't even on campus yet in, Will Levis. The Penn State transfer is a player that Liam Coen is extremely high on, and is a player that Coen targeted to bring to Lexington to run his offensive scheme. There will still be a battle between all three quarterbacks come fall camp, but it seems like this battle will be between Levis and Gatewood.
You can see the bomb Gatewood drops in this clip from the last scrimmage.
Wan’Dale is legit
“Wan’Dale Robinson is a great football player. He’s gonna be the truth.” - Josh Paschal
There isn't a player that is coming into next season with greater expectations than Robinson. Several years back he had fans giddy at the thought of him suiting for his home state school. Well, he is finally here and ready to put on a show at Kroger Field each Saturday.
With the new scheme Coen is introducing to these Kentucky players, it is going to showcase his speed, route running, and athleticism in a whole new light. Robinson is the big time playmaker on the outside that Mark Stoops’ teams have been missing for a few years, and fans should fully expect to see him used in a variety of ways.
Enjoy him Big Blue Nation, because next year we will be watching him on Sundays.
Offensive line will once again be a strength
After losing guys such as Drake Jackson and Landon Young, it is a fair question to wonder if the offensive line will be as strong as it has been the last few seasons. With the returns of Darian Kinnard and Luke Fortner, fans knew a couple pieces would be solid, but had some questions in other areas. Quintin Wilson has long projected to take over for Jackson once his career was finally over, and with Fortner getting some reps at center as well that spot seems to be set up well.
The biggest development would be Jeremy Flax. Liam Coen had this to say about him:
“Flax has made himself a cornerstone at right tackle. Solidified himself a little bit. Really more athletic than I though he was.”
With that high praise for Flax, the “Big Blue Wall” is setting up once again to be a top 10 position group in college football.
Coach Stoops, Yusuf Corker, and Justin Rigg - Post-Practice Press Conference https://t.co/eopdYnLIfZ— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) April 17, 2021
It is no secret that the inside linebacker depth is not a strong point for this year’s team, especially at the mike position. After a brutal injury to D’Eryk Jackson it appears Brad White’s defense is going to have to get a little creative.
Luke Fulton, the Michigan State transfer, seems to be the likely fit in that position as the roster currently stands. Trevin Wallace could play a role there as well, but could be a lot for the freshman to take on in a position that captains the defense. Jared Casey could also step up and grab the spot, and make a huge impact for a guy who has been in the program several years.
Keep your eyes peeled though folks, and be looking for potential transfer targets at the ILB position because that seems like the most likely outcome at this point.
Spirits are high around the program
The thought of an NFL offense coming to Kroger Field in the fall has had fans more than ready to see the finished product. After some of the transfer pick-ups and returnees from last seasons roster, it isn't crazy to think that another great season could be in the works.
Mark Stoops had this to say after the final practice this week:
“I feel good about wrapping up spring. I feel like it’s time. The guys have worked really hard for five weeks. You’ve heard me talk about it several times this spring, when you go for five weeks, it’s a long time to compete against each other. We get these kids up early. They have very demanding off days as well with workouts and meetings so it’s been a good five weeks. We’ve gotten a lot of work done.”
Exactly what you want to hear from your head coach, especially after revamping your entire offense.
Football season is getting closer, and it is shaping up to be a good one.