Football competes in intrasquad scrimmage



The UK football team concluded its third week of spring practice with an intrasquad scrimmage in Commonwealth Stadium Saturday. It was the first time this spring that the team has been able to compete at full-speed against live competition.

The game was an opportunity for starting quarterback Maxwell Smith, who one year ago was a lowly greyshirt freshman and a backup to Morgan Newton. Now, Smith is the starter and the leader of the offense, a role he has embraced.

“I definitely have progressed a lot from last year to this year,” Smith said. “Just being more in-depth with the playbook and being more in-depth with seeing defenses, reading coverages. I’m just a lot further along, and that’s going to come. Each year you learn more.”

When asked to grade the offense’s performance in the scrimmage and the first half of the spring practice season, Smith gave the team a C, because, as he explained, “we’ve got a lot of progress to make but we’re making a lot of progress.”

One key figure in that progression is junior wide receiver La’Rod King, whose veteran presence has benefitted some of UK’s younger skill position players.

“You have to prepare for everything, just really get their confidence up,” King said. “They’re good guys, they know what to do… they know the big picture, it’s just the little details.”

Both King and Smith noted the wide receiver tandem they know as “Double-D,” known by the coaches as Demarco Robinson and Darryl Collins. Robinson saw limited time as a true freshman last season, while Collins is coming off a knee injury that forced him to redshirt last season.

Players said Robinson took a screen pass 80 yards for a touchdown in the scrimmage – the kind of explosiveness they hope to see in the fall.

Head Coach Joker Phillips said he liked the energy he saw out of his defense before the scrimmage and in the opening two drives. But Phillips said the offense made a big play on the third series, and after that the energy was never the same on defense.

“(The defense) stopped them, stopped them, stopped them and then gave up the big play. Then we just started not playing with our great fundamentals we had been playing with and the offense starts making a few plays and starts to get confident, and I don’t think we ever regrouped defensively.”

Like the offense and “Double-D,” Phillips was also impressed with the play of some of his younger players. Phillips specifically mentioned the play of linebacker Alvin (Bud) Dupree, and said fellow linebacker Josh Forrest had a pick-six in the scrimmage.

Defensive tackle Mister Cobble also dropped Christian Coleman’s name as one we may not know now, but we will know in the fall.

UK will resume its usual practice schedule next week, with two weeks remaining before the annual Blue/White Scrimmage.