Cats cap first week of spring with scrimmage

UK staff gets long look at young players, reserves in 40-play controlled scrimmage at the Nutter Field House...

LEXINGTON, Ky. --- Kentucky's first scrimmage of the spring was light on highlight plays but long on looks for a handful of players expected to have expanded roles in the 2002 season.

Saturday's 40-play controlled scrimmage at the Nutter Field House featured only 18 pass attempts and just four by starting quarterback Jared Lorenzen. The junior left-hander completed two of four passes, including a nice 36-yard connection with sophomore receiver Tommy Cook, but most of the session was used to evaluate the UK running game.

Senior Artose Pinner, the lone tailback on the team with a rushing attempt in an actual game, carried the ball five times for 17 yards. Redshirt freshmen Alexis Bwenge and Ronald "Rock" Johnson got an extended look. Bwenge, a tailback, had six carries for eight yards while Johnson, a fullback, netted 22 yards on five attempts. His 12-yard gain between the tackles against the first-team defense was one of the scrimmage's highlights.

"Just standing there looking at it from the standpoint of a fan, I thought they both played pretty well," UK coach Guy Morriss said of the redshirt freshmen. "I know Alexis put the ball on the ground once, but overall, they looked pretty good."

Like it did a season ago, the defense held the upper hand in the first scrimmage

"The defense was a little bit ahead," Morriss said. "I thought that Dewayne (Robertson) and Jeremy (Caudill) did well plugging up the middle. I saw Trey (Mielsch) flash in there a couple of times from the backside and make some nice plays. And Dustin (Williams), I thought, looked pretty good. They were a handful of guys who caught my eye."

"I saw a lot of mistakes, but good effort," UK defensive coordinator John Goodner said. "We had a good week of work and got after it pretty good today.

"We got a look at a lot of young guys. We know the (older) guys who can play. What we want to see is if we can get the younger guys some experience and get them up there where they can help us."

In addition to the defensive players Morriss cited, Goodner said defensive tackle Ellery Moore, linebacker Morris Lane, outside safety Mike Williams and cornerback Earven Flowers had a good showing.

"Overall I'm pretty pleased with where we are," Goodner said. "We've had so much carry-over from the fall whereas last year we were starting from zero. That's made this spring so much better from a teaching standpoint... We're eons ahead of where we were last year."

Backup quarterback Shane Boyd was 2-for-7 passes for 8 yards. Third-stringer Trey Barclay went 5-for-7 for 27 yards. The UK quarterbacks had no interceptions on the day.

The team had four injuries, the extent of which are not yet known. Junior college transfer Chris Bernard, a wide receiver who had impressed coaches in the first three days of practice, suffered a sprained ankle.  If diagnosed as a "high" ankle sprain, he could be out for at least four weeks. Guard Keith Chatelain and safety Tim Funderburk suffered what are thought to be a minor ankle sprains. Defensive end Vincent Burns was aggravated by a foot bruise after being stepped on in Friday's practice. He was wearing a protective boot on Saturday.

The Cats return to the practice field on Tuesday at 2:20 p.m. ET.

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