Saturday Kentucky saw its defense step up to the plate and play a more attacking style. Additionally the defense used their speed to get to the ball and gang tackle. While they didn't put a lot of pressure on the Wildcat offense, they did do enough to force the Kentucky quarterbacks to be a little uncomfortable and make some adjustments.
What spectators noticed most was that Kentucky's defense looks faster. In the SEC, speed is paramount.
Another thing that stood out in the game was Morgan Newton. Newton has to adjust to life as the starting quarterback. He also has to do it without Kentucky's top two receivers from last season (Randall Cobb and Chris Matthews). Not to mention the loss of Derrick Locke from the backfield.
Newton performed well. His stats won't show everything, especially the 10 dropped passes by Kentucky receivers, but he showed excellent touch on his long ball. He also showed that he could throw the intermediate passes without taking the hands off his intended receiver.
The junior-to-be also showed leadership qualities and poise on the field. Those are both intangibles that physical tools can't replace. Given the look of Newton after going through spring practice and the bowl practices as the number one quarterback, the Wildcats should be in good shape.
Making Newton's life easier is the job of the wide receivers who finished the spring and the Blue-White game to mixed reviews. There were spectacular catches and some excellent stat lines among the wideouts, but there were ten drops (as previously mentioned).
Three drops from a player who could be a budding star for Kentucky, Brian Adams. Adams caught seven passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns. Adams didn't practice much this spring because he's playing baseball, but this summer and during fall camp we'll see Adams step into a major role for Kentucky where he could be the big play threat Kentucky needs next season.
Kentucky is a team that could surprise people if they keep their first unit healthy. Additionally the changes on the defensive side of the ball and the development of the wide receiver corps could be the difference in Kentucky posting a better than .500 record and missing a bowl for the first time in five years.