If you were looking for answers about the quarterback position at UK Media Day, you’re going to be disappointed.
During their media availability this morning, both Mark Stoops and Eddie Gran said they believe Terry Wilson and Gunnar Hoak will each get game reps to start the season.
“Right now, I do. But you don’t know how that’s going to play out,” Stoops said. “You’ve heard me say it, I’m honest about it, but I think at that position you get a good feel for what you have, but until you get to a game, you’re not exactly 100 percent sure. And that’s not different in many places. Not different in the NFL, in my opinion.”
Stoops says the competition is “very close” right now, and they both deserve an opportunity.
“Until those guys get under center and get playing and get those game reps, you’re a bit unsure. I think it’s fair to both of those guys to give them an opportunity because it’s very close at this time,” he said.
Gran agrees; the quarterback battle is neck-and-neck. And if it helps the team wins football games, they’re going to roll two guys out there.
“It’ll be close, but whether two play or not, you just have to see how they develop. If it’s the best for our football team, that’s what we will do,” Gran said.
The Kentucky offensive coordinator doesn’t agree with the perception that one quarterback is the runner and the other is the passer. He feels they are both more than capable throwing the ball.
“I think they both throw the ball well,” Gran said. “I think Terry for sure runs better than Gunnar, but I think they both throw the ball well. They got better in the spring. The biggest thing for me was where are we going to go in the spring and it was a little bit tough in the beginning. But as we grew, we got better.”
The players wouldn’t budge about who might be the favorite, either. Both Hoak and Wilson said they’re going into the competition with one mindset, and one mindset only: improve every day both individually and as a team.
“It’s definitely important to just come out and compete, get yourself better and do what you can to make this team better,” Hoak said. He added that the offense is improving as a whole, with Benny Snell and Dorian Baker being the key playmakers.
Hoak said he has a solid relationship with Wilson, and the JUCO transfer agrees. Off the football field, they’re great friends.
“We have a great relationship, we’re always making jokes in the locker room, having fun. You have to have that relationship with everyone in the quarterback room,” said Hoak.
“That’s my boy,” Wilson said. “We’ve gotten closer since the time I got here. It’s been great. All the quarterbacks are close, we’re all brothers.”
As far as what separates him from the competition, Wilson said he tries to be the ultimate team player
I’ve progressed a lot. I’ve learned the offense a lot more. I feel comfortable going through the reads. I just have to trust my ability. I can throw the football, if I need to get out of the pocket and run, I can do that as well. The biggest thing is picking up my teammates when they’re down. When I see my guys discouraged, I feel like it’s my job to help those guys and pick them up.
When asked about what makes Hoak a contender for the starting job, Wilson said the third-year veteran knows the system.
“He’s been here for three years, he knows what he’s doing. He’s excelled in the offense, knows the offense. Helps me out when I don’t know anything,” he said.
Hoak reciprocated the compliment, saying Wilson is a huge playmaker.
“Definitely the poise that he has,” he said. “He goes out there, and he makes plays. That’s the type of athlete he is.”
Tomorrow is Kentucky’s open practice, where we’ll get to see each quarterback in action for the first time since the Spring Game. We don’t have a favorite for the starting job quite yet, but fans will get a small glimpse tomorrow of what to expect as fall camp starts rolling.
Now, we wait.