Football, Stoops ready for spring game



By Alex Forkner | @AFork3

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On Dec. 2, 2012, Mark Stoops arrived in Lexington to accept the mantle of UK head football coach.

A little more than five months later, fans will get their first glimpse at Stoops’ first team.

UK’s annual Blue/White Spring Game is set to kick off Saturday at 7 p.m. at Commonwealth Stadium. More than 40,000 fans have gotten tickets for the event, according to the UK Athletics ticket office.

On display will be new offensive coordinator Neal Brown’s offense. Brown, a disciple of the Air Raid offense, brings his system back to UK. The Cats ran the offense under head coach Hal Mumme in the ’90s.

Fans will see three quarterbacks — junior Maxwell Smith and sophomores Jalen Whitlow and Patrick Towles — continue the battle for the starting role that has raged all spring.

“I’m not going to treat it with any more weight than the first two scrimmages,” Brown said after Wednesday’s practice. “The reps have been about equal throughout. We’ll do the same thing in the spring game.”

The quarterbacks’ order of appearance won’t mean one is ahead of the other, Brown said.

“Don’t get too caught up about who goes out there first, who goes out there second. We’ll probably flip a coin or something like that.”

Throughout the spring, the coaching staff has said the defense is ahead of the offense. But, in last week’s closed scrimmage at Commonwealth Stadium, Stoops was disappointed in the defense’s performance, saying the offense played with a sense of urgency and mentality that the defense lacked.

On Saturday, he’s hoping for a more competitive outing.

“I need to see — I want to see just good football, on either side,” Stoops said. “I just want to see good competition, good effort, good execution and make good plays.

“I don’t want one side or the other to be successful because the other side is not playing right or busting plays and playing inept. So I just want to see good ball.”

The game will be broadcast on the IMG Sports Radio Network, including WLAP in Lexington and WHAS in Louisville. The pregame show begins at 6:30 p.m.

CWKYT in Lexington will televise the Blue/White game on delay Sunday at 7 p.m. Fox Sports South also will televise the game on three days: Sunday at 9 p.m., Wednesday at 11 p.m. and Thursday at 2 p.m.