Kentucky’s struggling passing game has been the main topic of conversation among Kentucky fans. A problem without a quick fix, time is running out to find solutions with only four games remaining in the 2020 season.
Who will Mark Stoops turn to? After he was sidelined by a wrist injury against Georgia, Terry Wilson returned to practice last week. Joey Gatewood started in place of the senior and as expected, the first-time starter had little success throwing the ball vertically against Georgia’s talented defense.
Entering the final stretch of the season, Kentucky could find a little momentum in the passing game against a Vanderbilt team that ranks near the bottom of the SEC in pass defense, allowing just shy of 300 yards a game. An opportunity to change the narrative for at least a week, Stoops is waiting to say who will start at quarterback against the Commodores. He did have this to say about about the quarterback situation at Monday’s press conference.
How do you balance playing for the future when picking a QB?
“The person who gives us the best opportunity to win is who we’re going with because we’re here to win games. There is a balance there. I want to continue to be fair and to be right to Terry and if he gives us the best opportunity to win games, he’ll be in there. He did have a good week of practice last week. With that being said, I still think Joey and Beau (Allen) have great upside and I want to see them.
“It’s difficult because as you see every possession, every play, it’s so important. That position is unlike others. At other positions we rotate guys in constantly and it’s not an issue because we need to rotate and we need to get bodies in there. However, at that position it’s very difficult. It feels like if you’re shuffling guys at that position you’re already reaching. It’s difficult because the flow of the game is so important, every possession is so important. We’re in a lot of close games so, I understand the question. It’s difficult either way, but again, I’m going to go with the guy that gives us the best opportunity to win on this coming Saturday. With that being said, sure, I would love to continue to get Joey some reps and I’d like to see Beau in there as well.”
What is Stoops looking for from his QBs?
“Consistency. We’ve shown flashes and I think that goes with us as well, giving them a good opportunity, keeping people off balanced. We have to do a good job as coaches putting them in position. We are successful at moving the football when we’re balanced, when we can run the ball effectively. When we’re efficient running the ball it opens up a lot. When we’ve struggled we’ve been inefficient at running the football. We have to get the ball downfield. We’ve gotta be more aggressive. We’ve got to continue to improve at that position.”
Could there be some sort of Wildcat package with Gatewood and Terry?
“Coming into the year you tried to build off some of the Q(B)-run game and some of the designed Q-run game reads that we had a year ago with Lynn (Bowden), with also obviously being able to throw the ball downfield and handing it to our running backs. We’ve tried to build on that and that hasn’t been effective all the time. It’s been effective at times but we’ve been inconsistent so obviously we need to get better at those reads, the reads where the quarterbacks involved, whether it’s a give to the running back or a pull for the QB. There’s several runs there, again, we talk about week to week that maybe we’re off a play here or a play there. I think that’s going to happen with quarterbacks.
“The more opportunity they have, the better they get at it. We also have to be able to throw the football off that. That’s the big area where we’ve fallen short. There’s been a few games where we’ve been ineffective at both, running the ball and throwing the ball, so that’s not gonna give you an opportunity to win. Bottom line is we’ve gotta continue to improve in the Q-run game and we have to get the ball downfield. Getting the ball downfield is a combination of things: It’s protection, it’s the quarterback giving the receivers an opportunity to tactic the ball, it’s receivers getting open and making competitive catches.”