LEXINGTON — It’s almost time to get down to business as Kentucky inches closer to the season opener.
As expected, the offense appeared to be confident and on target as media members observed during an open practice on Tuesday.
Quarterback Terry Wilson has a lock on the starting job and shared repetitions with backup Sawyer Smith, who was on target with most of his throws. Wilson and Smith complement each other really well and offense coordinator Eddie Gran said both players are comfortable in their respective roles.
A.J. Rose carried most of the load with the first-team offense, while Kavoseiy Smoke and Chris Rodriguez also took their turn running the football. The thinking here is that all three will get their share of carries, especially until a degree of separation occurs between the first, second and third team. Freshman Travis Tisdale also was active in the backfield, and the speedy newcomer also could be a surprise this season and beyond.
Josh Ali made some solid catches and Ahmad Wagner also was impressive. Bryce Oliver also has been making noise during fall workouts and all three will be counted on to contribute.
“Josh Ali is stepping up and made a couple of good plays today,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said. “He’s been good throughout camp. Ahmad is going along and doing a good job. He’s a big guy out there and is a lot to handle. Bryce is doing a good job. We’re getting there.”
Lynn Bowden made some throws and could be used as a quarterback at times. Bowden’s leadership skills were evident during practice. The junior receiver congratulated Ali after he made a nice grab on a Wilson deep ball and was cheering on his counterparts.
The offensive line and defensive lines appear solid and although Stoops said the depth chart is starting to take shape, he wants to make some more observations before making a final determination on the two-deep roster.
“We have an idea, but we’re still a work in progress,” Stoops said. “We have a few days to figure that out.”
The biggest question mark that still lingers is within the secondary, where the Wildcats are replacing four main contributors from last year’s squad.
“Generally we all learn from mistakes and we’re trying to head off those mistakes before they happen,” Stoop said. “At times I’m seeing them over-communicate and playing with a great sense of urgency and other times I’m seeing a lapse in that. We just need to continue to work them.”
Stoops said freshman quarterback Nik Scalzo will require surgery after tearing his ACL in last Saturday’s scrimmage. Stoops said the anticipated surgery date is next week. Stoops said it was a non-contact injury and it was the same knee he injured while in high school last year.
“I’m disappointed for him,” Stoops said. “He worked extremely hard to get back as fast as he did from the first surgery, to be cleared and get out here and participate. He was doing a heck of a job and I really feel for him. That’s a hard surgery to recover from. He did it once and he’ll have to do it again, but I’m certain he’ll be back at full strength.”
Gametracker: Toledo at Kentucky, Saturday, Aug. 31, noon. TV: SEC Network