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Dissecting the quarterback situation following Tuesday’s Kentucky football practice

Kentucky football graciously opened their practice to the media yesterday, where we got to stick around and watch roughly an hour of action. We started with some simple passing drills to get the quarterbacks warmed up, followed by individual position workouts, and then a few minutes of full 11-on-11 competition.

Though people are interested in the various position groups, offensive vs. defensive success, and overall team performance, the biggest topic of conversation has been centered around the quarterback battle and who is going to come out on top.

After several weeks of back-and-forth movement, there seems to be a be a bit of clarity with a little over a week before kickoff.

The Quarterback group

To start with, Mark Stoops told the media last week that he is getting closer to a decision and that an announcement would likely come on the Monday of game week.

Well, just four days away from the supposed decision day, there are some whispers within the program that they might know who their guy is. But first, let’s break down the options.

This has been beaten to death, but I can’t stress enough just how impressive both main quarterbacks in the competition are under center. I heard some things this summer that had me genuinely worried about the offense this year, but seeing them in person now for the second time, I have come away relieved and satisfied both times. Maybe the concern this summer stemmed from heightened expectations, and the team’s worries internally were mainly about making elite/upper-level SEC throws, not just the simple throws and catches that have for whatever reason been so difficult to execute over the years.

With it being a challenge in the past, it was a shock to me to see both quarterbacks slinging the rock into tight windows and converting on big plays. Either Terry Wilson and Gunnar Hoak could win the job, and I’d be happy. They’re both capable starting quarterbacks in the SEC, and with the other huge playmakers on offense, the Cats will have no problem finding success with the ball. The coaching staff and players have been extremely confident in media sessions/KSR interviews, and we have no reason to doubt them. Kentucky will be set.

That being said, sources told KSR last week that Wilson was the clubhouse leader, and I came away from practice yesterday confident in that report. Both Drew Franklin and Nick Roush came away feeling the same way. The JUCO transfer rolled out with the first-team drills to start practice, and again in the full 11-on-11 team period later. He’s a great decision maker, has home run ability with both passing and on his feet, and the chemistry is there with his teammates. Something clicked with him in last week’s scrimmage, and ever since, things have been really, really positive with him. He’s got a rocket for an arm with nice touch, similar to Stephen Johnson’s first season at Kentucky. He’s confident in the pocket and knows when to evade when it collapses. He has supposedly been a bit too reliant on running, not waiting long enough for the play to develop, but that’s something the staff isn’t worried about in the long run. When he sees game action for the first time, things will start to come easier. I’m under the impression the staff feels Wilson is their long-term starter.

Again, this isn’t anything against Hoak, as he’s solid in his own right. The staff may just like Wilson’s playmaking ability a bit more.

Now onto the other two scholarship QBs.

I have to be honest, I was a big Danny Clark critic when he first got on campus. With major accuracy issues and a seemingly-broken throwing form to start with, I genuinely thought he’d never play a snap under center as a Wildcat. Some initial conversations I had last year had me even more worried about his future with the team (nothing personality or attitude-driven, purely from a skill standpoint).

Ever since, though, he’s looked pretty darn solid both times I’ve seen him this offseason, and I’m building confidence for him in a year or two. Clark has his overthrows and missed opportunities on occasion, but so does every quarterback. His accuracy has gone from extremely poor to slightly above average, which the staff would take at this point all day, every day. His pure arm strength is ridiculous, and easily the best on the team. Clark has taken massive strides, and I have to tip my hat to him for that alone. Every time the quarterback battle has been discussed, the coaching staff and players have added Clark’s name to Wilson and Hoak. Though I don’t think he has a shot at winning the job this year, I could see him solidify his place in the competition next offseason or the year after.

As for Walker Wood, things aren’t as peachy. Honestly, he may be better suited to follow in the footsteps of Randall Cobb, Julian Edelman, Terrelle Pryor, and Hines Ward, among other quarterbacks-turned-receiver.

Wood is a stud athlete with great field vision and lateral quickness with the ball in his hands. But as far as a pure quarterback goes, the zip and accuracy of an SEC quarterback just isn’t there. He came to Kentucky as a project quarterback, and following several injuries, he’s just now coming up to speed with the system. His knowledge of the game is improving, but in my brutally honest opinion, the on-field success just isn’t showing. Maybe he just had bad practices each time I watched him, but I came away extremely disappointed each time. He’s a great kid with an awesome personality, but it may be in his best interest to try and earn reps at a skill position, where I genuinely think he’d thrive.

We’re just a few days away from the big decision, BBN.


Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

16 Comments for Dissecting the quarterback situation following Tuesday’s Kentucky football practice

  1. Gocats30
    10:03 pm August 22, 2018 Permalink

    I would love to see some video of walker wood. He was a stud in high school and looked good in the spring game.

  2. StuckinLville
    10:04 pm August 22, 2018 Permalink

    Hasn’t Hoak been with the program for 3 years now? Either way, if he’s passed on as the starter I look for him to transfer and I don’t blame him one bit. He’s invested a lot of time in the program just to be passed on by someone who has wheels.

    • Alex90
      12:16 am August 23, 2018 Permalink

      This happens on every single team in the country, there can only be one starter! The coaches choose the player who gives them the best chance to win, it has nothing to do with how much time you invest in a program.

    • mashburnfan1
      12:51 am August 23, 2018 Permalink

      Yep, look at Bama and UGA. Very good QB in Eason gets hurt and Fromm tkes over and Eason never sees another snap. Now Fromm ho took them to title game may lose his job to a FR. Most know the Bama situation. Also Clemson QB may lose his job to a FR. Michigan has 2 very good QB prospects that lost their chance to a guy that transferred in. Happens all over, I was just showing some major programs as an example.

    • dismore
      8:03 am August 23, 2018 Permalink

      Hoak is gone if he doesn’t start. I think this year Stoops was giving Terry as much time possible to prove he’s a starter knowing not announcing anything would prevent Hoak from leaving this summer.

    • Alex90
      9:03 am August 23, 2018 Permalink

      Thats just dumb. If Hoak earned the job he would have been named the starter and could still be. He probably should wait after a game or 2 though if he isn’t thd starter because you never know what could happen

    • ClutchCargo
      9:52 am August 23, 2018 Permalink

      There is a lot of loser mentality around here. By this logic, SJ should have just packed up and gone home when he wasn’t named the starter at the beginning of 2017. The only way to build SEC quality depth is to have several talented guys who can step up when they are needed.

    • ClutchCargo
      9:53 am August 23, 2018 Permalink


  3. ibescootch
    10:10 pm August 22, 2018 Permalink

    I think purely from a fan perspective who enjoys watching games (as opposed to just caring about winning), I’m glad Wilson is looking like the man. For lack of a better term, Hoak seems too vanilla for me. Maybe he’d get the job done, we’d inch our way up field and he’d manage the game well, but selfishly, I’d rather see us play open and exciting. Fortunately, it seems like Wilson is not only more exciting, but capable as well. Should keep the defense guessing.

    • Corder
      11:43 pm August 22, 2018 Permalink

      Thank you. Iv been saying the same thing. To add to that. I’m tired of just seeing us mange a game. Let’s go out there and take it to these other teams. Kentucky’s football program is not going to beat people straight up man for man so we may need a type of QB that not only can make the right play at the right time but be able to keep the D guessing with a play maker back there.

    • bailey000
      10:35 am August 23, 2018 Permalink

      Why can’t we win man for man? One of the best RBs in the country. One of the best TEs in the country. One of the best O Lines in the country. Very dynamic receivers. The only question mark is QB. Can someone explain what I’m missing? The only thing that people say is that we are Kentucky. Tell me something about this team that looks like it will be a bad year.

  4. TBW3011
    7:06 am August 23, 2018 Permalink

    Sources tell me you guys have flipped on who’s starting 12 times in the last 14 days.

    • Alex90
      9:03 am August 23, 2018 Permalink

      They report what they hear. That’s all.

  5. ukisgr8
    1:17 pm August 23, 2018 Permalink

    I saw walker woods team in high school and watched him warm up. He threw the ball as hard as he could and grunting and all. The ball barely made it 40 yards, was a duck and 10 yards off target. I agree on the Edelman thing. If he would by into playing the slot he might do pretty good. Be interesting to see

    2:19 pm August 23, 2018 Permalink

    Am I the only one that sees Chris Westry has a club on his left hand in this pic? Hopefully nothin major, but something KSR should try to look into before game week. Can’t afford to lose any of our starters @ corner

  7. Logic_Prevails
    5:27 pm August 23, 2018 Permalink

    It shouldn’t matter which guy wins the job as long as the play is good. If Hoak plays like Andrew Luck or Donavon McNabb in games then I want him behind center. If Wilson plays like Michael Vick or Marcus Mariota then I want him. If they both suck then let’s see what the next guy can do. I only care that QB play improves and win a few more games.