For years the Kryptonite of Kentucky football has been the running quarterback. Naturally, that means Kentucky is going to start the season playing against one.
Over the weekend Central Michigan head coach John Bonamego revealed Tony Poljan will be the Chippewas’ starting quarterback.
Poljan is not your typical “dual-threat quarterback.” Standing 6’7″ tall, Poljan spent the 2017 season playing wide receiver and a Wildcat quarterback of sorts. He completed 10-of-17 passes for 61 yards, caught five passes for 97 yards and carried the ball 23 times for 110 yards and a touchdown. To put it plainly, he’s fast enough to play wide receiver but taller than Nick Fitzgerald, the Miss. State passer who will break Tim Tebow’s SEC record for rushing yards by a quarterback this season.
Unlike some of the weapons that have dismantled the Cats in the past, Poljan’s start against Kentucky will be his first. He has a big arm, but he isn’t very wide at just 225 pounds. Central Michigan’s offensive coordinator acknowledged that Poljan has plenty of work to do.
“We’re taking it one day at a time,” Chris Ostrowsky told the campus newspaper, Central Michigan Life. “Besides being a strong-armed, athletic, tough kid who’s is going to be a consistent leader on and off the field, your ability to process information is so important to playing the position at this level and he continues to grow and get better at it because his work ethic is consistent and it’s every day.”
Facing a running quarterback will always strike fear in the hearts of Kentucky fans, but Poljan is no Lamar Jackson. Instead of reliving those nightmares, think of Keon Howard, the Southern Miss running quarterback that got pulled at halftime against UK in last year’s season-opener after rushing for only 18 yards on 10 carries.
If Stoops’ defense puts early pressure on the inexperienced Poljan, September 1 should be a lot of fun. If they give Poljan the freedom to run around and make plays, “it’s the beginning of the end” overreactions are perfectly acceptable.