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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Year 2 Quarterbacks Have Mixed Bag of Results

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Terry Wilson will head into Year 2 as the starting quarterback for Kentucky and while there are lots of question marks about the overall team for 2019, many people are highly confident in Wilson after seeing his last few games in 2018.  And typically, Year 2 for a starter normally equates to increased production.  And you can really look at a QB’s performance both individually and as a team.  Following a 10-3 record last year, it is really hard to imagine the team record getting there again in 2019.  So it would be unfair to call Terry’s season a disappointment if they don’t get 10 wins again.  But individually, I would be highly disappointed if Terry’s stats don’t improve following a season where he really wasn’t asked to produce much through the air for most of the season.

Take a look at all of the UK QB’s who were given 2 full seasons (or more) as starting QB and how their production changed from Year 1 to Year 2:

Tim Couch
Year 1, 1997 (5-6 record): 363-547, 3884 yards, 37 TD, 19 INT
Year 2, 1998 (7-5 record): 400-553, 4275 yards, 36 TD, 15 INT

Jared Lorenzen
Year 1, 2000 (2-9 record): 321-559, 3687 yards, 19 TD, 21 INT
Year 2, 2002 (7-5 record): 183-327, 2267 yards, 24 TD, 5 INT
*Lorenzen’s sophomore year (2001) he was only part-time starter

Andre Woodson
Year 1, 2004 (3-8 record): 146-253, 1644 yards, 6 TD, 6 INT
Year 2, 2005 (8-5 record): 295-452, 3515 yards, 31 TD, 7 INT

Mike Hartline
Year 1, 2008 (7-6 record): 172-311, 1666 yards, 9 TD, 8 INT
Year 2, 2010 (6-7 record): 268-405, 3178 yards, 23 TD, 9 INT
*Hartline’s junior year (2009) was ended by injury

Patrick Towles
Year 1, 2014 (5-7 record): 225-393, 2718 yards, 14 TD, 9 INT
Year 2, 2015 (5-7 record): 183-326, 2148 yards, 9 TD, 14 INT

Stephen Johnson
Year 1, 2016 (7-6 record): 145-265, 2037 yards, 13 TD, 6 INT
Year 2, 2017 (7-6 record): 189-316, 2305 yards, 10 TD, 6 INT

Terry Wilson
Year 1, 2018 (10-3 record): 180-268, 1889 yards, 11 TD, 8 INT
Year 2, 2019: ?????????????

Of the six QB’s before Wilson, four of them increased their passing yards in Year 2.  Lorenzen’s can be explained because of coaching change from Mumme to Morris.  Three of the six improved touchdown passes.  Only 1 (Hartline) had a worse overall record in Year 2 although the regular season record for both of his seasons was 6-6 and he just won a bowl in Year 1 and lost a bowl in Year 2.

Point being, it’s been a mixed bag.  I think Wilson is more talented than Towles, Hartline, or Johnson.  I think the fact he is scrambling QB is something none of the other guys really had to his level.  But I think throwing 8 INT in just 268 passes needs to improve.  I would be surprised if he doesn’t throw at least 300 passes this season, or a little over 25 a game.  He’ll have Bowden there and with a deceased running attack, you would think more passes would be thrown.  With that said, he should shoot for less interceptions in 2019.

What do you think?  Should there be individual statistical improvements from Wilson in 2019 for you to be satisfied?


Gunnar Hoak will meet with the Ohio State coaching staff

On Tuesday morning, Kentucky quarterback Gunnar Hoak announced that he would be putting his name in the NCAA transfer portal.

Tonight, it is being reported that the junior quarterback will be meeting with the Ohio State coaching staff.

Hoak, a Dublin, OH native, lives just over 15 miles away from Ohio State’s campus in Columbus. With OSU quarterback Matthew Baldwin entering the transfer portal last week, there is an opening at the backup QB position for the Buckeyes next season.

After Hoak entered the portal on Tuesday, Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops told reporters that “it’s not a done deal” that the junior quarterback transfers from the program.

“Gunnar and I had a great talk yesterday. He’s a great kid and as I told him, he really had a good spring. I told you all that after one of the scrimmages that he really played well, as good as I’ve seen him play. I think you understand that because he’s a competitor and he wants to play. It’s not a done deal that he’s going to go somewhere else. I think he’s going to look at it and just check his options and I told him we would have another discussion about it at a later time and we’ll see where that goes. Just want to be supportive of him and his decision but it does put us in a situation where we’re a little thin.”

He will have two years of eligibility remaining and will be eligible to play immediately should he decide to leave.


What Gunnar Hoak’s Potential Departure Means for Kentucky’s Offense

If Gunnar Hoak does not wear Kentucky blue in 2019, Eddie Gran will not be able to completely unleash every offensive weapon at his disposal.

Tuesday morning Hoak announced he has entered his name into the transfer portal. A sign many saw coming, Mark Stoops confirmed the Dublin, Ohio native is leaving the door open to possibly return to UK for another season.

“It is not a done deal that he goes somewhere else, I think he is going to look at it and check his options and I told him we would have another discussion about it at another time,” said Stoops. “We will see where that goes. I just want to be supportive of him and that decision.”

If Hoak does leave Lexington, as Drew informed you last night, Terry Wilson’s supporting cast has zero college football experience. Wilson will be one injury away from putting UK’s offense behind the eight-ball. That’s obviously the greatest concern, but it’s not the only potential limitation to Gran’s offense in 2019.

QB Running Game

Life after Benny Snell will make Gran and Darin Hinshaw’s life more difficult. They need every potential playmaker at their disposal. Not used as much near the end of the 2018 season, people forget just how well Terry Wilson runs the football.

In his first season as UK’s starter, Wilson rushed for 547 yards and four touchdowns. If you take away the negative yards from the 28 times he was sacked, Wilson gained 6.75 yards per carry on 8.2 attempts per game. That’s better than any other Wildcat runner, 1.5 more yards per carry than Benny Snell.

If Wilson was able to get almost seven yards per carry in his first year in the offense, the natural next step to take, especially without Benny Snell, is to increase Wilson’s workload on the ground. With Hoak in the picture, Wilson would easily get 11-15 attempts per game. Without Hoak, Gran will try to conserve his passer by dialing up fewer plays like this:

Too Much Thinking

Terry Touchdown’s greatest weakness manifested at Kyle Field. At various points in the year, he was a poor decision-maker. Equipped with an abundance of knowledge, he got inside his own head. At Texas A&M he thought too much and it was obvious.

When asked this spring what was the biggest difference in Wilson’s game, the phrase, “more comfortable” always came to light. His understanding of the scheme improved dramatically. It helped him get rid of his nervous habits, like stepping up in the pocket, and got the ball out of his hand faster.

All that improvement could go to the wayside if Wilson is worried about not getting hurt. When the going gets tough, good habits fall by the wayside and thinking overtakes instinct. Instead of using his instincts to fight for a first down in overtime, Wilson made the “smart” play and slid. Could that situation occur again if Gran and Hinshaw are reminding him not to get hurt? Certainly.

We will see the best version of Terry Wilson if Gunnar Hoak decides to return to the sideline. Without Hoak, the immense pressure on Wilson’s shoulders will only become heavier.


NCAA Changes Football Overtime Rule

We will never see another game like Kentucky’s seven overtime thriller vs. Arkansas in 2003.

This morning the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel voted to approve a few college football rule changes. They made a minor tweak to kickoff formations and added a 15-yard blind-side block penalty. The most dramatic change is for overtime.

Once the game reaches a fifth overtime, instead of returning to the 25-yard line to switch possession, teams will simply alternate two-point conversion attempts. The reason behind the rule change: player safety. Directly from the NCAA:

Panel members approved a tweak to the overtime rules. If a game reaches a fifth overtime, teams will run alternating two-point plays, instead of starting another drive at the opponent’s 25-yard line. This rules change was made to limit the number of plays from scrimmage and to bring the game to a conclusion. Additionally, there will be a two-minute rest period after the second and fourth overtimes. The rules for the first four overtimes remain unchanged.

Playing more than four overtimes is rare, but when it does happen it is an instant classic, like last year’s LSU-Texas A&M game.

Was this change necessary? Not at all. Since the adoption of overtime in 1996, only five games have resulted a seven overtime endurance test.

There was also a change to the targeting rule. On some occasions the call on the field would simply “stand” after further review. Now there’s no gray area. Replay officials must either confirm the rule on the field or overturn the targeting penalty.

Read all of the changes here.