Three things we learned this spring about the Kentucky Wildcats:
1. Depth in the backfield: Running back is an area of strong depth for Kentucky and it showed this spring. Four running backs -- Braylon Heard, Jojo Kemp, Josh Clemons and Mikel Horton -- combined for 308 rushing yards in the spring game, led by Clemons (93 yards) and Kemp (90 yards). With no quarterback starter set and not a lot of experience at the position, having veteran runners should help.
2. Stamps boosts secondary: Junior college transfer safety A.J. Stamps had a strong spring, drawing praise from the coaching staff for acclimating himself quickly and for his playmaking ability. That's good news for the Wildcats secondary, because Kentucky was tied for the fewest interceptions in the country in 2013 (three).
3. There is optimism: It's always tough coming off a 2-10 season, but Mark Stoops & Co. believe the Wildcats are better now than they were at this time a year ago and the fan base still appears excited -- 35,117 showed up for the spring game -- so there is hope for brighter days ahead in Lexington.
Three questions for the fall:
1. Who's the quarterback? The Wildcats' spring ended with three players competing for the job: sophomore Patrick Towles, redshirt freshman Reese Phillips and true freshman Drew Barker. Maxwell Smith, who started four games last season, sat out spring practice recovering from a shoulder injury. Towles started the spring game and was solid (11 of 15 passing for 126 yards). Stoops hasn't indicated a clear timetable for naming a starter, but Towles appears to have the edge currently.
2. Can Demarco Robinson continue to bounce back? Robinson was suspended for the final two games last season and coach Stoops said he could return if he "meets some requirements we put on him." So far, it looks like Robinson is doing that. He had eight catches for 115 yards in the spring game and Stoops said he's "very proud of the effort that he has made off the field." The Wildcats were thin at receiver this spring.
3. How impactful will Heard be? Braylon Heard, who transferred from Nebraska, turned in a solid performance in the Wildcats' spring game with 55 yards on 18 carries while working with the first-team offense. While sitting out last season, per NCAA transfer rules, he showed plenty of improvement. "He took as much advantage of a redshirt year as anybody I've seen," offensive coordinator Neal Brown said. The coaching staff likes the junior's explosiveness and maturity, but the backfield is deep.
The Wildcats will win a game they aren't supposed to this fall. They still have a long way to go to get to where Stoops wants them to be, but they're better and continue to increase their talent level in recruiting. Finding the right quarterback will be key.