UK passing game improved

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Improvement in the passing game is a priority for the 2009 Kentucky football team and the early indication through four spring practices is encouraging.

"You watch our practices now," Brooks said. "Last year, even one-on-one we couldn't complete a lot of passes. Now the ball is not on the ground very often. The receivers are running better routes. They're coming out, the ball is there and they're catching it. It's a lot different than it was."

The crowded wide receiver corps features seven returning lettermen – senior E.J. Adams, junior Kyrus Lanxter and sophomores Matt Roark, Aaron Boyd, Randall Cobb, Gene McCaskill and Eric Adeyemi – along with redshirt freshman E.J. Fields and additional walk-on competitors.

"We're still in the process of trying to find out a rotation, who's going to start, who's going to back up, and that's before we bring more competition into the mix in the summer and fall," Brooks said.

The most productive wideouts last season were Lanxter (23 receptions), Cobb (21), McCaskill (15), Adams (14) and Adeyemi (13).

Brooks also noted that quarterback Mike Hartline has thrown the ball more authoritatively, especially in the short and intermediate routes. Hartline completed 55 percent of his passes last season, good for 1,666 yards and nine touchdowns.

The team practiced for two hours Monday morning in the climate-controlled Nutter Field House, avoiding the cold, misting rain outdoors. Brooks continues to be impressed with the productivity of practices on the new artificial turf installed in the field house last May.

"It's a totally different atmosphere with the old astroturf out," Brooks said. "You guys walked on it, it was like walking on sandpaper. Obviously you get a lot more quality practice work done with the new surface."

The Wildcats return to practice Wednesday morning. The first full scrimmage is set for Saturday.

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