Offense stands out in first UK Football spring scrimmage



By Kevin Erpenbeck

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The temperature outside might have been below freezing, but the intensity of UK Football’s first spring scrimmage was on fire.

Several fans turned out to watch the Cats participate in their sixth practice of the spring semester on Saturday, despite the thermometer reading 30 degrees for most of the two-hour session. UK put its previous practice drills to the test during the faux Blue vs. White match, where the offense (Blue) shined throughout.

Head coach Mark Stoops was impressed with the effort from his players, even if some plays ended with short skirmishes between teammates.

“It’s going to be competitive in the spring when you’re constantly going against each other,” Stoops said. “When we’re open to the media and the fans, I like to keep it as clean as possible. But yeah, they’re going to get intense and get after each other a little bit, as it should be.”

Quarterbacks Drew Barker and Patrick Towles combined to throw three touchdowns on the day. Sophomore wide receiver Blake Bone hauled in two of them, while freshman tight end C.J. Conrad snagged the other.

Stoops said it’s important for the team to have tall options in the passing game as UK tries to tweak its Air Raid scheme under new offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson. With both players at 6-foot-5, they certainly fit the bill.

“We need guys like that to make plays. You have to make plays when you’re covered,” Stoops said. “Blake continues to get better and C.J. with the height he has … you’re not going to just create all this space. You have to make difficult catches.”

Junior running back Jojo Kemp also had a strong outing, scoring three touchdowns from the ground, two of them being for 30-plus yards.

After recording his final touchdown of the day, Kemp ran over to high-five every fan that stood on the sidelines of the open practice as part of his celebration.

“They came out, so I had to make it worthwhile coming,” Kemp said. “I had to make sure they enjoyed their time here.”

Towles said Kemp’s enthusiasm helps liven up the team during tense situations, and that he hopes he continues it in the future.

“I love it. He’s had it since he has got here,” Towles said. “People kind of downplay the effect it can have on the offense. When something is going bad and Jojo is running and giving everyone high-fives, it lightens it up a little bit. It lets you relax.”