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The Anatomy of Kentucky’s Midseason Quarterback Competition

Kentucky reached the midway point of the 2020 football season and pressed the reset button on its quarterbacks.

Ahead of Saturday’s matchup at Kroger Field with the current owners of the SEC East, Georgia, the Wildcats will explore options at quarterback. There was an “or” listed between Terry Wilson and Joey Gatewood’s names on the depth chart.

“We’ll see how it goes throughout the week,” Mark Stoops said Monday. “Haven’t had the opportunity to meet with those guys with Sunday being a day off. We have our meetings coming up, so we’ll see where everything is after a couple of days.”

Kentucky’s head coach refused to show his hand on exactly what he’s looking for from the quarterbacks or when he will make a decision. Stoops did provide some clues as to how this week’s quarterback competition will unfold. The motivation for the change was simple. Kentucky’s entire offense is not playing well enough.

“There’s a variety of things that we need to do better. I don’t need to point the finger at any one group. Obviously, we all need to accept the responsibility for that and improve on it,” he said.

“I want our unit to play better. I want us to play better across the board. I felt like we didn’t strain like we normally do. That goes for everybody. I don’t feel like we played with the same chip, the same mentality, the same edge that you need to play with each and every week. No matter what you do, who you play, you have to refuel during the week. It’s a challenge but it’s not an excuse.”

The quarterback competition is not limited to just Wilson and Gatewood. Stoops said that true freshman Beau Allen is “in the mix” to earn that starting role. What’s holding Allen back isn’t his play on the field.

“That part of it is tough because all of the quarterbacks need the reps. They need the looks. That’s where it gets — there’s a fine line there with running our receivers into the ground, but also getting the looks for the quarterbacks at game speed. It’s hard getting three quarterbacks looks but he (Allen) has been impressive. I’ve said that from the beginning. He’s a guy that definitely has some great ability, anticipation and can throw the ball. We’ll see where it goes. It’s hard to get three guys ready, but yes he is in the mix.”

The UK offense actually will not have a rep-splitting problem today. Stoops revealed that Wilson will miss today’s practice with a minor injury, giving Gatewood and Allen a head start in this week’s preparation for Georgia.

There’s no simple solution to Kentucky’s passing problem. Of the three quarterbacks, Allen probably is the best aerial option. However, attacking through the air is not the direction Stoops wants his offense to take. By referencing what worked against Missouri, it sounded like Stoops is ready to run the damn ball over and over again this Saturday against Georgia’s fourth-ranked rush defense.

The big-bodied Gatewood might be the ideal quarterback for the difficult challenge that lies ahead if he can master one aspect of Kentucky’s offense. Stoops specifically only mentioned one thing that the quarterbacks must improve: correctly reading the defense in run-pass options.

“All of our quarterbacks aren’t going to be perfect on their run reads, as far as giving it to the back or pulling it. Sometimes there’s some gray (area) there and we’re not always going to be perfect. We understand that. On our run-pass options, we’re very clear on that and we need to be on point with that. That we need to improve on,” Stoops said. “To be able to be effective offensively we have to execute that.”

Even if Eddie Gran can find someone who will make all of the right reads this week, it may not be enough to show offensive improvement against one the nation’s best defenses. Whoever wins this week’s quarterback competition is walking into a buzzsaw when the Georgia Bulldogs come to Kroger Field.

Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR

15 Comments for The Anatomy of Kentucky’s Midseason Quarterback Competition

  1. CatfaninCinci
    1:35 pm October 26, 2020 Permalink

    Its quite telling Roush, that Wilson is now a senior. And this has been his 3rd QB competition. The fans aren’t the driver of that. His play on the field has been.

    Coaches wouldn’t constantly be scoping other options if the primary options was bringing it. Process that.

  2. BigBogee
    1:45 pm October 26, 2020 Permalink

    I love my Wildcats, but I’m already hearing ” Heyyyyyy Georgia Bulldogs” in my sleep. My cousin that lives in Stockbridge GA is already texting me his annual smack!

  3. blueballs80
    1:51 pm October 26, 2020 Permalink

    So Beau is in the mix eh and throws the ball well, so why not give him a look?

    • Thetruthshallsetbennyfree
      2:23 pm October 26, 2020 Permalink

      It makes since with our run game to have an accurate passer that keeps the db’s attention on our wrs and the lbs afraid to bite on every handoff motion.

    • CombatMedic_98
      3:54 pm October 26, 2020 Permalink

      Football 101…!

  4. BigBluSoTru
    1:58 pm October 26, 2020 Permalink

    J-Gate is the key to the East title and Atlanta . He is the truth people he showed it Saturday he threw the most beautiful pass i’ve seen in along time. His throws were pro .

  5. Thetruthshallsetbennyfree
    2:20 pm October 26, 2020 Permalink

    If Gatewood beat UGA we’d never see you again.

    • CatfaninCinci
      2:45 pm October 26, 2020 Permalink

      Roush would quit KSR if that happened. He’s probably rooting for him to fail.

  6. bigblue98
    2:47 pm October 26, 2020 Permalink

    We’re 2-3 with the meat of our schedule to go. If for nothing else other than he won’t be back next year it’s time to move on to Gatewood or Allen. The season has already crapped out – get those two and the freshmen receivers some experience. If they keep doing the same thing the last half of the year they risk losing this recruiting class. What good receiver wants to go to a school that just had 145 yards of total offense?

  7. big cat
    2:48 pm October 26, 2020 Permalink

    LMAO. Funniest thing ever said by Stoops – “That’s where it gets — there’s a fine line there with running our receivers into the ground….”

    UHHHHH. From what I’ve been watching, these guys need all the reps they can get….geez. Make excuses much, coach?

  8. Skywalker
    4:01 pm October 26, 2020 Permalink

    Wilson is a game manager, we have to have other moving parts going well in order to win, we need a game winner, let’s give Gatewood a shot, against Mizzou he threw an on the money pass while on the run and looked much more confident running the ball. I appreciate what Wilson has done, but it’s clear that we won’t take the next step with him at the helm.

  9. goteam94
    4:29 pm October 26, 2020 Permalink

    Stoops gets paid a lot of money to have blown 3 games this season. Wilson has been in college long enough it’s obvious he isn’t it.

  10. channell
    6:09 pm October 26, 2020 Permalink

    I have stated several times Wilson is not the future of UK football. Play someone else that has 2-3 years to give to the program. The season is lost because of poor coaching and QB play. Get ready for next year and give Gatewood or Beau the reps.

  11. dcforuk
    7:01 pm October 26, 2020 Permalink

    Article did not seem to favor Wilson did it???

  12. loservilletard
    10:29 am October 27, 2020 Permalink

    as long as Gran is OC, they will never play good offense. His plays are terrible, and he doesn’t play the right players. Every team in America runs better plays than Kentucky.