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Stoops disappointed in Kentucky’s first scrimmage of fall workouts

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops addresses reporters following Saturday’s scrimmage at Kroger Field. Stoops wasn’t happy with his team’s performance during the mock contest. (Kentucky Today/Keith Taylor)

By Keith Taylor
Kentucky Today

The first impression wasn’t a good one for Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops.

Three weeks before the Wildcats kickoff the season against Central Michigan, Kentucky held its first scrimmage of fall camp and it wasn’t a thing of beauty according to Stoops, who said the scrimmage wasn’t what he was expecting more than a week after practice began.

“I thought it was just not good enough today,” he said. “Not a good enough scrimmage. I really was disappointed, to be honest with you. The overall scrimmage, just in general, I felt like it was a bit flat. I expected more out of these guys across the board. I felt like we were just sloppy.”

The Wildcats were without standout running back Benny Snell, who sat out the scrimmage because of a calf strain and backup A.J. Rose was in Cleveland for a funeral. According to Stoops, Sihiem King pieced together some good runs, but it wasn’t enough to overshadow the team’s poor showing on both sides of the ball. Stoops singled out pre-snap penalties that stalled a few drives on offense.

“We had some drops (too),” he said. “Late in the scrimmage, we put the ball on the ground. Defensively, just average. Felt like it was just average across the board. I didn’t really see the exceptional play from either side. I just felt like it was good enough to be average today. Really not what we’re looking for.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do, but that’s why we’re here. We’re in the middle of camp. I expect this group to bounce back. Get a little bit of rest this weekend and get back at it next week because we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Kentucky linebacker Kash Daniel agreed and added the scrimmage also wasn’t acceptable for the players and termed it was “average at best.”

“If we want to get to where we need to be, then today was unacceptable,” he said. ”I’m disappointed as a leader and as a defensive player. We’ve just got to put it behind (us). We need to come back in and watch film, learn from our mistakes and come back on Monday with a little bit of an attitude.”

Daniel said the defensive unit didn’t meet its goal while competing against the offense and added the players and coaching staff expect more in moving forward.

“Our standard as a defense and the whole team is to be the best football team on the field every time we cross the white line,” he said. “The way we played today, that’s not our standard.”

The scrimmage also didn’t provide any more insights into the quarterback battle between newcomer and junior college transfer Terry Wilson or Gunnar Hoak. Stoops said both players were “inconsistent” a common thread for both players during the first week of camp.

“They’ve been inconsistent,” he said. “But I think you could say that about a lot of guys. I don’t feel like anybody has stepped up on the offense to make a spectacular play. Wide receivers, again, I just feel like we’re very average there right now. We have nobody stepping up and making great individual plays for them. But I think the quarterbacks are a part of that as well. I think they’ve been inconsistent.”

Kentucky senior Josh Allen said the Wildcats weren’t prepared for the task at hand.

“A lot of people weren’t making a play and relying on another person to make a play,” he said. “We’ve got to be more competitive on both sides of the ball and excuse the call.”

Although the scrimmage wasn’t anything to brag about for the players and coaches, Allen said a silver lining could be found and the mock contest served as a wake-up call for the offense and defense.

“That’s why we scrimmage to see who’s going to make plays and who’s not going to make plays,” he said. “A lot of guys did make plays. The coaches are going to watch the film and see who made the plays behind them. That’s just how it is. We had a lot of good plays, but a lot of good plays were made off mistakes on each side of the ball. We’re going to watch and learn from those mistakes so they won’t happen against next week.”

Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at keith.taylor@kentuckytoday.com or twitter @keithtaylor21.

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