Kentucky is making a change at quarterback halfway through the 2020 season.
The catalyst behind the move was an injury Terry Wilson suffered at Missouri. Stoops said Wilson woke up Sunday morning with soreness in his wrist. Wilson struggled to handle and hold onto the football too much to practice this week, putting the ball in Joey Gatewood’s hands.
“He has the keys. He’s the starting quarterback,” Stoops said.
Unfortunately for Gatewood, he has limited live reps, even for a typical reserve quarterback. The Auburn transfer arrived on campus in January and was only able to get in five spring practices before coronavirus closed the UK football facility. Kentucky’s head coach is excited to see how Gatewood puts his impressive physical tools to use.
“He’s definitely a big, strong guy. He’s got a big arm. He can make all the throws. He stands strong in the pocket. You never know with that position until you get put into the situation is how their vision and how they’re gonna go through their progressions, how they step up in the pocket and distribute the football down the field. From what I’ve seen from him so far, I believe that he’ll do that. He brings a lot of ability and a big arm,” Stoops continued.
“Obviously, he can run the ball. He’s a different style than Terry. Terry is maybe a little faster top end, quicker, but Joey is one of those big, strong runners. He gets some good yards for you that way. Looking forward to seeing what he can do.”
If something goes wrong with Gatewood, Kentucky will turn to true freshman Beau Allen, a four-star recruit from Lexington and the son of a former Wildcat who has an incredibly bright future.
“You never know how things are going to go throughout the game and when opportunities are going to present themselves. I anticipate Joey going out there and playing well. I wanted to see Beau all year, but as you can imagine it’s very difficult. Every possession, every rep, every time we have the ball it’s pretty important. Obviously, getting Terry reps early in the season with being out last year, we needed that. Joey needs the reps and now at some point I’d like to see Beau get in there but I’m not sure when that will happen.”
Kentucky’s offense will not drastically change in scheme with Gatewood taking snaps at quarterback. This week Eddie Gran formulated a gameplan that will not be overly-complicated. It’s not just to make things simpler for Gatewood. The Wildcats anticipate bringing along a few more freshmen at wide receiver, like Michael Drennen and Izayah Cummings. Stoops talked about the difficult task of balancing how to play experienced players vs. young talents who are destined to be stars in the future.
“All the decisions that go into it, we’re looking for whoever gives us the best chance to win the games. Obviously you need depth. Certain positions that you may be talking about, whether it be running back, receiver, guys that are running a bunch, you’re going to need to rotate guys in there so you need to have quality depth. You need to have guys you feel like you can win big games with, with two or three guys, depending on the position. Anytime there’s a significant drop-off, that’s going to be a liability for us because we’re trying to win the game.
“I would never sacrifice that for the future if I thought it could cost us a game. I’m going to play the guys that give us the best opportunity to be successful. Again, there is a balance there as well because to move a program forward you’re trying to get guys reps. You’re trying to get guys as much as you can and they have to earn that trust through the week, so I think that’s a complex question…there’s different levels of it. There’s guys playing quite often and there’s guys like the freshmen that we’re trying to bring along but you know they’re not quite ready.”
For Gatewood, ready or not, here Georgia comes.