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August 16, 2014

No QB decision after Saturday scrimmage

Everyone waiting on pins and needles for a starting quarterback decision from Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops and offensive coordinator Neal Brown will have their posteriors poked a little longer.

After Saturday's scrimmage, the coaches are reserving judgment on who will lead the Cats' offense until after film review. Even then, there's no guarantee a passer will be picked in the coming days.

"If we're ready, if we feel like we have a decision, after that then we'll make an announcement," Stoops said. "If we don't then we'll wait. I'm not going to feel rushed by that. We've got to get it right. Each quarterback has really shown that they're capable of leading this offense, and each of them has made some mistakes, like you would anticipate."

All four quarterbacks split reps during the scrimmage. When he flips on the projector this weekend, Brown said he'll be looking at a few key factors.

"I want to see who manages our tempo and there's a lot of things that go into that as far as getting the signal, getting us going," Brown said. "It's different. It's hard to talk about. It's easy to see, though. Different quarterbacks operate our offense differently. How quick they get the signal, communicate it with the o-line, those types of things, so that's important. I want to see who makes the best decision, especially, especially on crucial downs, third downs and I want to see who's the most accurate."

Brown said the offense threw the ball on approximately two-thirds of the plays in the scrimmage, focusing on improving the passing game.

"We did some good things. We've got some growth to make in that area, for sure," Brown said. "We've got to get healthy. That's our first order of business and practice with everybody we're going to play with. And once we do that, we'll really concentrate hard for the next 5-7 days on the passing game."

Brown mentioned tight ends Steven Borden and Ronnie Shields both caught touchdown passes, Dorian Baker and Rashad Cunningham both made plays on deep balls, and that he expects Ryan Timmons to be a playmaker this year.

Defensively, the first team performed well, drawing praise from both Stoops and defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot, but the second teamers left them wanting more.

"Defensively we did some good things," Stoops said. "In particular, the first group really looked solid. We've got to continue to find some depth."

"The ones looked much sharper than the rest of the units," Eliot said. "So we're still working to develop depth and continue to improve fundamentals in all aspects of the game."
Eliot said the starters execute better and faster while communicating effectively, all aspects where the backups must improve.

"And sometimes on the twos, it may be just one person that doesn't execute, but that messes the whole deal up," Eliot said. "So if you can get 11 guys doing it right, then you got a chance to be successful."

The battle for playing time at defensive tackle rages on. Eliot said once the rotation there is finalized, they will have a good group of players seeing time.

Linebackers Ryan Flannigan and true freshman Nico Firios stood out to the coaching staff.

Other notes:
-Wide receiver Jeff Badet will miss some time after getting hit in the eye with a tennis ball during a practice drill. Stoops said they will know in about a week the severity of the injury.

-Freshman running backs Mikel Horton and Stanley Williams saw a lot of carries Saturday, as other players were limited. Brown was especially pleased with how Horton used his size to gain yards.

"I just walked back from the stadium with him and that's what I was telling him that it was probably as good as I've seen him run the ball since he's been here at UK," Brown said.

-The coaching staff and Joe Craft partook in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. All were doused with ice-cold water.

"We did it thinking about Marc Hill, who lost his father to ALS. So we did it in honor of him and the team," Stoops said.

UK Athletics will release the video of the challenge soon.

Kentucky NEWS


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