Offense impresses at UK Spring Scrimmage

Quarterback Patrick Towles (14) gets ready to throw the ball during the scrimmage on Saturday, April 11, 2015 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Hunter Mitchell

By Joshua Huff

[email protected]

Though it felt like a fall day, the unfinished Commonwealth Stadium reminded those on Saturday at UK’s spring practice that fall was more than a season away.

The performance of the team, however, dispelled any thought that it was still April.

Despite numerous injuries on offense, big plays highlighted the scrimmage in front of a large crowd at the Tim Couch practice fields.

Incumbent quarterback Patrick Towles looked impressive helming an offense that struggled down the stretch last season.

“Patrick has done a nice job,” head coach Mark Stoops said about the ongoing quarterback competition between Towles and Drew Barker. “I feel like he’s getting better, and that’s the most important thing. Rather than naming a starter, I need all the guys to get better and in particular at quarterback. I feel like those guys are getting better.”

And the quarterbacks, under new offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson, will need to improve drastically if Saturday’s play calling was any indicator. The coaches dialed up deep ball after deep ball with Towles demonstrating his proficiency down field.

“You’ve got to be able to stretch it when they’re stacking the box in this league,” Towles said. “There were times last year when we couldn’t do that. We didn’t have the personnel or didn’t make a good throw.”

It was not just Towles that picked apart a defense missing vocal leaders Bud Dupree and Za’Darius Smith. Barker, other than his two interceptions, looked much improved over last year. He threw a 42-yard touchdown to Snodgrass and had a spectacular over-the-middle pass to freshman C.J. Conrad.

“We are competing for sure,” Towles said. “There’s no doubt about that. I want to play as good as I can and he wants to play as good as he can. But at the end of the day, we’re on the same team. One of us is going to go out there and play and the other one is going to root for that one.”

The defense had a few big plays of its own. Linebacker Josh Forrest had a pair of interceptions as he looks to improve on his already excellent pass coverage.

“He had a few missed tackles in there,” Stoops said. “That’s where he knows he needs to improve, but he has great range and he’s very good in space and can make some big plays in the pass game.”