Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Spring Practice

Since I get Good Friday off from work, we decided to make a long weekend of it and go visit Josh at UK. I found out that UK Spring football practice would be going on and that it was open to the public. I wanted to see it of course, so I planned to do that Saturday morning.

Donna and I parked our car close to Josh's dorm and started walking. Josh called afterward wanting to know what was taking so long. He knew some direct path through campus to the Nutter Training Facility and got there a lot quicker than we did. The Nutter Training facility is right next to the UK baseball field. These were both new to me, the baseball field was in a totally different spot when I was there and the Nutter Training facility wasn't there. Ervin J. Nutter was a mechanical engineering graduate from UK and gave money for Mechanical Engineering scholarships as well as the training facility.

They have multiple practice fields there including one with artificial turf. There were about 50 to 100 people watching. You could get right up to the edge of the field and watch. They were running multiple drills in blocking and running. The UK QBs were practicing their throws. There are three QBs that have a shot at being the starter. Mike Hartline is a senior and was a starter last year unless being hurt in a bizarre situation at South Carolina (he was nailed on a Delay of Game dead ball of all things). Morgan Newton stepped in a as a freshman to run things after that. Ryan Mossakowski is a redshirt freshman with a strong throwing arm. It'll be interesting who ends up being the starter.

I of course was mesmerized. Donna and Josh watched for a while and then left when I started to rain. I stuck it out though. They ran several more drills (including punt blocking). Finally, they ended up moving to the artificial turf field and running a kind of scrimmage. That was really interesting. The receivers looked to have a lot of trouble hanging on to the ball though. The QBs all had red jerseys on to signify they were not to be touched. A lineman bumped one of them at one point and got a severe tongue lashing from a coach.

Speaking of which, I also saw new UK head coach Joker Phillips. He played there when I was in college at UK (he's a couple of years younger than me though, that makes me feel old). He was very active running from groups of players in various drills giving encouragement and instruction. I'll be interested to see what changes happen when games start in the fall.

I saw several Kentucky sportswriters I recognized including Alan Culter, Chip Cosby and Larry Vaught. Tom Leach known as "the Voice of the Wildcats" was there as well. The players were very nice and signed autographs and talked with people afterwards. It was a very neat experience. I am looking forward to the fall to see how things fare with the team. Besides the QB battle, UK must replace standouts Travard Lindley, Micah Johnson, Sam Maxwell and Corey Peters on defense. They also must replace 4 of 5 starting Offensive Linemen as well as their vastly underrated fullback John Conner. I am hoping we can make it to five bowl games in a row.