First-team defense improves in second scrimmage

The Kentucky Wildcats had a lengthy, 60-play scrimmage on Wednesday at the Nutter Center. The first-team defense and sophomore wideout Derek Abney were among the highlights...

LEXINGTON, Ky.  --- A second chance for the defense yielded better results Wednesday as the Kentucky Wildcats conducted a 60-play scrimmage at the Nutter Center.

In their first scrimmage on Saturday, the offense had its way with the defensive unit, leaving many of the players on that side of the ball red-faced and hungry for another opportunity to mix it up.

Artose Pinner scores

They were granted that request, and the first-team defense responded by shutting out the offense until the final play of the day, a 20-yard touchdown pass from Jared Lorenzen to running back Artose Pinner.

"Overall, I think we got accomplished what we needed to accomplish, which was more live tackling for the defense,” UK coach Guy Morriss said. "The first thing I saw was that the players were tired. Our legs were gone, and the concentration was not where it should have been.  We need to start getting the players fresher.  We’ll do that by having fewer collisions in practice."

"I thought our first bunch was pretty good," UK defensive coordinator John Goodner said. "Our second bunch... we got a long way to go. We've got to have some backups. Our first guys can't play 65 or 70 snaps a ballgame, so we've got to get better with our second bunch. I was kinda disappointed in the way they played and pleased with the first bunch, except for down on the goal line. We've got to be better down there."

The last eight plays of the scrimmage were set up as first-and-goal from the 8-yard line. Out of those eight plays, the offense scored four touchdowns. Two other plays yielded in good results for the defense --- and interception of second-team quarterback Shane Boyd by free safety Nigel Smith and a fumbled snap recovery by Dennis Johnson --- but it was the four touchdowns that left a bad impression on Goodner.

He did say, however, that it's difficult to judge when you're simulating situations which begin deep in the red zone, rather than forcing a team to drive the length of the field.

"First of all, you don't need to let them down there," Goodner said. "I think the national odds, if you let them have it on the 5, it's about 97 percent they're going to score a touchdown or a field goal. We want them to try the field goal. I don't mind that if they start on the 8. But I don't think that you can be a good defense if everytime they get inside the 8, you give up a touchdown.

Goodner liked the spirit he saw from his first unit, but is seeking more consistency.

Derek Abney soars
for a TD catch

"I think our intensity was there," he said. "But you're always looking for a play to spark yourself, and we had that two or three times, but didn't build on it. We sacked the quarterback or had an incompletion on second-and-10 or second-and-long, but couldn't put that next play together. A good example of that was down on the goal line where we'd have a couple of great plays, then bust an assignment."

Lorenzen continued to tighten his grip on the starting quarterback job. The sophomore left-hander completed six of 14 attempts for 125 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. His scoring strikes included a 27-yard pass to Derek Abney, a 65-yard bomb to Ernest Simms and the 20-yard capper to Pinner.

Abney, a sophomore wideout, finished with four catches for 68 yards and two scores.

"I thought Derek Abney had a good afternoon," Morriss said, "and so did Aaron Boone."

Redshirt freshman challenger Shane Boyd was 11-of-20 for 80 yards and two TDs (Abney 8, Boone 9), but also tossed two interceptions.

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