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Notes Following 2023 Spring Open Practice

Updated: Jul 28, 2023

The Kentucky Football team opened the gates this afternoon to the public to give a glimpse of what we can see going into the 2023 season. Mother nature had different plans, however, providing 50+ MPH wind gusts and a less than fortunate opportunity for fans to see Devin Leary show off his impressive accuracy.

Injury Update

If you attended todays open practice, you may have noticed two key factors missing action that otherwise seemed healthy. Not to worry, wide receiver Barion Brown and middle linebacker D'Eryk Jackson are likely to be out of commission for just a couple of weeks. Although today wasn't the perfect day for long balls, we did get a chance to see Dekel Crowdus fill the void by burning some cornerbacks. Stoops reassured media after today's practice that this tends to occur in spring as it limits the plans of getting as many 1st team reps as possible. Today, the 1st team recorded a total of 23 plays, and in large part, due to the lack of depth involving some of those injuries.

The Good

Today, Kentucky showed strength at the defensive line, particularly through the offenses running struggles. Kentucky looked solid through all three levels of defense, but showed impressive depth particularly on the defensive line.

The defense looked great at all three levels today. Without the presence of senior inside linebacker D'eryk Jackson, Trevin Wallace showed the great leadership that has been discussed by defensive coordinator Brad White in the previous weeks of spring camp. The defensive line proved efficient today by substituting multiple pieces with Darrion Henry-Young and Josaih Hayes, without missing a beat. Jordan Lovett had the play of the day on the defensive side, jumping the corner route ran by Dane Key. Lovett later admitted to dropping the ball, but was ruled an interception in the scrimmage setting the Cats were in.

On limited passing attempts, transfer quarterback Devin Leary looked confident in the pocket and even traveled around the pocket to find his primary targets. Leary had one interception, but the signs of leadership remain present after transferring from NC State just a few months ago. Today's open practice displayed depth at running back, as the offense played Dee Beckwith with their 2nd strings. Jager Burton also looked the part. Last week, offensive coordinator Liam Coen had high hopes after stating Jager's transition is coming along nicely. Today, we got to see for ourselves. The 6-4, 280 lb. sophomore got reps with the first strings today, and did not miss a beat playing center. Burton showed fans his quick hands, with the exception of a play or two in moments where he was alone on an island. Besides the couple of blown plays, he really stood out. It would not surprise me in the least if he is the starting center for the 2023 season.

The Bad

By the looks of it, the majority of the off period will be spent talking about the offensive line. Will the 2023 squad be able to protect the run? Jeremy Flax took to the media today to explain the struggles up front and why it still is not preforming the way that group needs to be preforming. "Right now, for us, it's more so communication and just finishing plays off really." Flax, more specifically, then discussed the struggle as a whole in blocking for the running backs. "Right now, as a whole we feel like we are not performing in the run game at all or anywhere near to our full abilities. I would say, we're definitely watching our film and definitely see what we're doing wrong and stuff like that, but that's been our main goal. Just getting our run game and being able to run that ball, and then open up that offense... That's what we've got to do."

Other Notes

Fans and media alike today spent the vast majority of their time with the team, observing the matchup between NIU transfer and left tackle Marques Cox, and outside linebacker JJ Weaver. Flax discussed the battle a little bit today, and hinted that they've been going back-and-forth since the beginning of spring camp. Stoops and players alike spent much of their time today in front of the cameras reassuring what spring is about: The basics. Paul Rodriguez was spotted with the first team today in place of Kenneth Horsey. I was reluctant to place this topic in the injury section, but never got confirmation from Head Coach Mark Stoops. However, I don't look for this to be a long-term thing.

Devin Leary threw a very impressive 30-yard pass off of a fade route to Dane Key, in what was the play of the day on offense. It is worth mentioning that the team the BBN saw today was NOT the finished product and will likely have additions coming, as well as maybe some players leaving. With May 1st-15th being the next transfer window, do not expect this roster to be set going into the fall.

After the conclusion of today's open practice, Mark Stoops, Jordan Lovett, Dane Key, Tre'vonn Rybka and Jeremy Flax got a chance to catch up with the media. All of those interviews can be found on our YouTube channel. Make sure to subscribe to us there to keep up to date with spring practice and everything else Kentucky sports.



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