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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Barker or Hoak Should Play in Bowl, Right?


Ask coaches why playing in a bowl game matters, and you will almost certainly get to the point that the team gets an extra month of practice at the end of the season.  For programs who are not your traditional powers, that extra month can be HUGE for a program.  Even though fans are not super excited about this bowl, this opponent, or how this season has finished, I am sure the coaches are sure excited to get another month with this group.

But it isn’t just about trying to get one more win.  Look back at most of the bowl games that Kentucky has played in the last 20 years and you will often find an unsung hero in the game.  Somebody that nobody expected to play a key part in the game that turns out to be a deciding factor.  And it is usually in the extra month of practice where that person can emerge from the pack and make a name for themselves.  Because, believe it or not, in many ways this bowl game is actually the first game of the 2018 season.  This game will set the tone for what kind of momentum this program will have going into next year.

Which brings us to an, admittedly, uncomfortable question: Drew Barker or Gunner Hoak should play some in the bowl, right? 

During his press conference yesterday, Stoops said it is important to get Barker or Hoak more reps in practice leading up to the bowl.  That’s all fine and good but bowl game practice reps and game reps are very different things.  And next year, barring something unforeseen, one of those two guys is probably going to be taking opening game snaps.  Hoak has taken all of zero snaps at Kentucky while Barker started a total of 3 games, losing all 3 before losing the job to Stephen Johnson.

Now, I don’t think anybody would say we have a better chance of beating Northwestern with Hoak or Barker under center than Johnson.  And I am certainly not saying that Johnson shouldn’t play the large majority of the game, especially if the game is close.  But it would be my preference to have Hoak and Barker duke it out during these practice reps and whatever guy goes into the game as 2nd string get 2-3 series to show his stuff.  Maybe give each guy 1-2 series.  But either way, I’d like to see the future of the UK quarterback position to see some action in the “first game of 2018”.

Let’s throw in another rarely discussed factor in this discussion: Stephen Johnson isn’t exactly knocking it out of the park.  In his last 6 games, Johnson threw 1 touchdown pass total.  He didn’t throw for more than 204 yards in any game and threw for under 150 yards in 4 of the 6 games.  So it isn’t as if without Johnson the Cats will completely fall apart.

Barring an injury or complete meltdown, I doubt we’ll see either guy in the bowl game.  But I find that unfortunate.  Because what do we really gain from winning the bowl game?  I think if we see some positive things out of Hoak or Barker, even in limited playing time, that would give the fanbase and program more confidence going into 2018 than Stephen Johnson winning or losing the game on his own.  This is a team that will be returning a lot of players next year.  The one glaring exception is at quarterback.  My call is to start prepping for 2018 on December 29th against Northwestern. 

Article written by Bryan the Intern

38 responses to “BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Barker or Hoak Should Play in Bowl, Right?”

  1. paynemj1

    I think you mean DECEMBER 29th not JAN. 29th……

    1. originalCatFanForLife

      Agree as well. You beat me to the punch paynemj1. As Seinfeld told Newman, while Newman was planning his new millennium party…”that would be quite lame”. Gunnar or Drew playing on January 29th would be quite lame.

  2. davis2319

    The fan base would be more encouraged for the 2018 season with a bowl victory. Johnson has got us to this point and I expect him to receive all of the snaps in the game, unless there happens to be a blowout. To even think about getting snaps for Barker or Hoak is ridiculous. We need to win this game more than “get the future QB ready”.

  3. ukjaybrat

    one of them should play IF and ONLY IF we have a comfortably 3 touchdown lead in the fourth quarter. which is unlikely but hey. As much as bowl games don’t matter. SJ deserves the right to play in this game. and he deserves to bring in the win. Letting one of the other guys get some playing time doesn’t really get them off on a headstart for next spring as much as the practice time will. split the reps in practice the next month and start johnson. the other guy whoever it is can come in the fourth and see what they got.

    1. chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door

      I agree totally. IF we were to blow them out, or at least have, say, a 10 point lead and we can go to victory formation, take SJ off the field so the fans can give him one last huge round of applause.

      On one had I would hate to put Drew in just to take a knee, but I think SJ deserves a moment like that.

      Benny too, but he’ll be back.

  4. nashcat17

    Agree 100%, davis2319. First off, you play to win the game and you play the players who give you the best chance to do so. Unless something significant happens in the next few weeks it should be Johnson. Second, this game is something that Johnson helped the team to earn, as is the case for the other seniors. To suggest that this is the 2018 season is ridiculous, and we should let this years team enjoy competing one last time (they’ve earned it).

    *Just another bad KSR football post.

    1. CatsfaninFL

      **Just another bad BTI post

  5. UK Football BRO

    I’ve seen Barker play enough. I will not renew season tickets if Hoak doesn’t get game action. Let’s see what we have in Hoak.

  6. ClutchCargo

    We would need to have a comfortable lead in the 4th quarter for this to make sense. Getting the win is the most important thing about the actual game. Also, this is NOT the first game of 2018. This team has the personnel of the 2017 team.

  7. jojovandaho

    I completely agree with this. We should have seen either if not both the last two games when we were getting blown out. What was it helping to have Johnson in down 28 in the second half to UofL. I am very appreciative of what Johnson has done while at UK, but play him the first quarter and allow him a dignified exit. But the next month should be about preparing for the future.

  8. SoCalCat

    Your first interesting post in a while. Conceptually, your idea is interesting. However, I think a poor bowl showing throws more dirt on Stoops long-term grave, which he cannot afford. Northwestern is a good team and the recent lackluster play alludes to a 3rd straight loss, which if it is large, may mean you’ll get your wish in an unplanned way.

  9. UKinIN

    These coaches are very hesitant to make changes. In 2017 Snell didn’t play early and I’m sure if Barker hadn’t been hurt the team had continued to struggle Barker would not have been replaced. Even this year trying Drake Jackson at center seemed like it took the coaches getting desperate. That said the QB battle for next season should be between Hoak and Clark. There’s no upside to starting Barker for one season or worse, benching him as a struggling fifth year senior.

  10. bigbluechesticles

    I say go for it. I really don’t care about the outcome of the bowl. The players won’t go 100%, and I don’t blame them. No way I would play if I were Benny. Stay healthy. Johnson hasn’t been good for several weeks, so put in the new guys to see what they can offer to get a start on next year, to maybe get some excitement. Since they decided not to make any coaching changes, I really have no reason to look forward to next year, so a good outing from a new qb might help, but doubt it.

    1. ClutchCargo

      Do you seriously even watch football? Not going 100% on the field is asking for an injury. And don’t get me started on an underclassman refusing to play in any game.

  11. jch67

    Nice to see most of my fellow responders are pointing out what an idiotic suggestion posed by Mr. “The Intern” in this post.

    A bowl victory is MUCH more important than seeing who’s better, your 2nd or 3rd string QB… What do you think a recruit would want to see? I bowl trophy or a glorified scrimmage? I wonder what Stoops would say to the suggestion of using the Bowl game as, basically, an early Blue/White game instead of trying to win!!

    The only good thing I see from this post is someone is finally realizing we have 2 QBs on the roster for next year. 1 who participated in the Elite 11 camp and was a much heralded recruit (Barker) and the second who just about beat out Johnson for the starting job this year (Hoak). I think the coaching staff and media outlets are doing both of them a disservice by suggesting, through the somewhat desperate QB recruiting of late, that neither of these two have a chance of starting next year.

    Barker is what he is – hopefully the guy UK recruited shows up at some point. Hoak, however, I’m pretty excited about. And, he has 2 more years of eligibility. If he can win the job we would have some stability at QB for the next couple of seasons (just as we would with a Juco transfer).

  12. krautdog

    Makes too much sense.
    Stoops isn’t that smart!

    1. RickE

      It doesn’t make any sense.

  13. secrick

    What we really need is a good Quarter back coming in for next year. Don’t think we have one. Win the bowl game.

  14. stoopstroops

    Once again BTI reminds us he’s the dumbest son of a bitch to walk the earth.

    1. manOwar

      I don’t know about the dumbest…but I don’t get why BTI and Drew (for that matter) are all up Barker’s butt?! How many times do they need to see him freeze in the pocket and get sacked before they realize that HE SUCKS?!? Drew always says, “Well, I just remember how great he looked in that 1st half against Southern Miss last year.”…. OMG who cares. That was an eternity ago and he has looked like GARBAGE ever since. Come on people, open your eyes. I’d rather watch SJ play any day over Barker…Now, Hoak is a different story. We need to see him soon or that Cat is gonna transfer- mark it down.

  15. ClutchCargo

    Man, we have some football-illiterate fans…

  16. Ninjashock

    So let’s take the winningest QB that Kentucky has had in decades and bench him for some unproven guys during our BOWL GAME?! All in the name of getting him reps for next season? This has to be the most moronic thing I’ve ever read on this site.

    Yeah, and maybe we should start Brad Calipari in the NCAAs too.

    1. ClutchCargo

      Yes, it would be a great idea to just slap SJ in the face and bench him after leading us to a 2nd consecutive bowl game. Oh, and let’s not really try to win the game, since it’s actually the first game of 2018.

  17. chris43

    Johnson got us this far and it’s his last game at UK. Unless we’re blowing them out which I doubt IF they take Johnson out I’ll turn the damn game off. This is Johnson and Snell’s team. Trust me you’ll get all you want of Barker and Hoak next next until you’re sick of seeing it unless we can luck up and land a JUCO Qb. I have no idea about Hoak but BARKER SUCKS!

    1. jojovandaho

      And this ladies and gentleman is the mindset of a losing program. How does winning the Music City Bowl against Northwestern do anything for us to grow this program? Please answer that. Did beating FSU in 07 bring in a bunch great recruits in?

      We are going to return arguably the best RB in the SEC next season, along with most of the starters in the offensive line and on defense. The major question mark will be at QB. Why not use a majority of this game to see what those guys can do. Winning that game could be great if it showcases the future of the program.

      And please do not tell me Northwestern is that great of a team. They went to overtime with Nebraska this past season.

  18. 72uksprinter

    Yikes, where to start?
    1. Dumbest Post of the Year to BTI – no contest.
    2. SJ will start and play QB and all UK players will go full out and try to win.
    3. Unless someone finds a magic wand to fix the O Line, D Line and the woeful Secondary, it is most likely that we will get our asses handed to us by a big, fast and very well-coached Northwestern team.
    4. Any speculation that we will blow them out so DB or GH can play is delusional.
    5. BTI and some commenters underline why so many people call UK a “basketball school.”
    GO CATS, prove me wrong and WIN big!

  19. UK Big Board Update

    If the fans say Barker sucks so much, then what was all the BS about fans wanting him to start over Patty Ice a few years ago?

  20. CombatMedic_98

    Hoak has been the most consistent been the most consistent QB statistically speaking in both Blue/Whit Scrimmages every season…but has yet to be given the opportunity in one game! He has the “vision” on the field that you see in mature QB’s, but he is beyond that at his experience level, I guess that Hinshaw knows best though. If they give HOAK the ball next year, he will absolutely redefine KY football…if the line blocks and the receiver’s catch the ball! Hopefully I am not the only one that picked up on this 2 years in a row!

    1. codeblue270

      Hoak has the talent and tools to be a great QB and I agree he should be the starter next year, I think Barkers injury made him gun shy, don’t blame the man – rehab sucks , Stoops has given Barker his chances time to move ahead — SJ has earned the right to start this bowl game ✅the man has grit, played hurt – he earned the time and should finish strong. Go CATS

    2. krautdog

      SPOT ON CM!!!

  21. jaw2152

    I don’t usually comment on posts but I had to on this one. By far the DUMBEST thing that I have read in a while. Any football game that I have ever played in or watched had one goal and that was to WIN the football game. Generally this means you play your best option at every position.

    Neither of those guys should enter the game unless there is an injury or we are up big or down big in the fourth quarter.

    As I said DUMBEST post I have read maybe in my lifetime.

    1. CombatMedic_98

      Goal was and is the best QB KY has on their roster. PERIOD. What did’t you understand. The only thing I can argue are statistical evidence based on time played and by all the QB stats that goes with it. Same thing with Blake Bone last two years…statistically he was the best receiver KY had…he barely played last year. This year he was MONEY every play. No he didn’t score 18 TD’s but this game is about CONSISTENCY. PERIOD.

    2. jaw2152

      Not sure at what point you thought my comment was a reply to your post. If you’d pay attention you would notice that my comment which was referring to the original post/article (by BTI) being the dumbest thing I have ever read was not under your comment but rather a comment of its own.

      Speaking of understanding do you really think we should throw Hoak into the bowl game as the starter with zero game experience? The basis for your decision to do that is that he had a great spring game against our stellar pass defense that made most every quarterback we played look like a heisman candidate?

      Pay more attention to the string of comments and replies before accusing me of not understanding something that you posted which up until a few moments ago I hadn’t even read.

    3. CombatMedic_98

      Truly sorry. Thank you for clarifying.

    4. jaw2152

      No problem. By the way I wouldn’t mind seeing a gunslinger at quarterback either.

  22. wildcatdon

    Stoops would never play those guys. He always goes with older guys regardless of talent and plays not to lose. I look for Hoak to transfer after the season. He should have seen some time this year. The coaching staff was so fired up when he committed and now they act like he isnt on the team. Did they mis-evaluate? Johnson is not all that in my opinion. He has been awful the second half of the season. and if he has been injured then one of the other guys should have been playing.

    I have no faith in Stoops at all. I think we get stomped in this game.

  23. BlueDew

    This post is unbelievable. I hope the person doesn’t foresee a future in journalism. This post is a divisive post for fans and not one intended to being positive vibes, if you will, to the fan dash. How stupid is it not to play the guy who earned playing in this bowl. We are in it to win it, not to scrimmage for next year. I swear, some writers on this site are immature and have no idea what what they are trying to convey to the UK fan base. Awful idea for an article.

  24. BlueDew

    For all those out there with dreams of Barker at QB. Regretfully, he had a major injury and we don’t know the full extent of that injury and what his durability will be taking shots from some of the most athletic players in the country; they play in the SEC. As we are well aware they have size, strength and SPEED. What limited playing time he has participated, here are observations of people that are paid money to evaluate QB talent. Barker has a slow release in his throwing motion. This causes him to be limited checking progressions during the play. He has very limited pocket presence. This causes him to be sacked and bottled up and make poor decisions. It has recurred in his limited playing time this year. Hopefully, Hoak and Clark have these skills. If not we are in for a long season next year.