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Could change be coming to UK’s offense?

Nik Scalzo with Mark Stoops and Eddie Gran.

By KEITH PEEL, Contributing Writer

It looks like the UK Football recruiting class of 2019 is starting to take shape. There are currently some very nice recruits in that class including Moses Douglass, a four star safety from Ohio, and a couple of three-star linemen from Kentucky and Florida along with a couple of three-star defensive players from Georgia and South Carolina.

But the most interesting commitment so far is from a three-star quarterback out of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, named Nik Scalzo. Nik is rated as the 16th best dual threat quarterback in the country. He is also 5-foot-11 and weighs 185 pounds.

Both of those facts are interesting but not as interesting as this one. Nik plays for Cardinal Gibbons High School in Ft. Lauderdale. Cardinal Gibbons runs an Air Raid offense. In fact Scalzo has thrown for over 4,000 yards and 50 touchdowns in his two seasons at the school.

It seems interesting that Eddie Gran has gone “all-in” on a quarterback that does not fit the prototypical size and weight measurements for an SEC quarterback. And that quarterback has the skills suited to run an Air Raid offense and run it very effectively.

Based on the past couple of recruiting classes it appeared that Gran and Stoops had given up on running a pass-oriented offense in favor of a run-pass option offense with a big, fast featured running back, tall wide receivers that can stretch the field and a quarterback that has the ability to manage the game, make plays with his feet and throw the occasional deep ball to keep the defense from loading the box on the run game.

Now with the commitment of Scalzo it appears that may not be the case. Here’s how Scalzo describes his game, “I would like to say that I’m a pocket passer, but I have the ability to extend plays as a dual-threat quarterback. I can stay in the pocket and make those throws — but when I’m on the run, that’s when I think I’m at the top of my game. I feel like I have very good field vision and I can get the ball to where I need it to be.”

It will be interesting to see one, if Scalzo actually signs on signing day – he says he is 100 percent committed to UK – and two, if Eddie Gran adjusts his offense back to more of a pocket based short pass-oriented offense with smaller, quicker receivers that can break loose on the edges after they catch the ball or will he stick with the current model and ask Scalzo to take the beating required of a quarterback that uses a lot of run-option in the pass-run game.

Here’s hoping that whatever Coach Gran decides to run as an offense it will allow UK to score more than the 25 points per game average that helped them finish as the 10th place offense in the SEC last year.

5 comments

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  1. As long as a RB like Snell is in the backfield, Stoops and Gran will run it more than throw it IMO, and probably rightly so. A great RB like Snell deserves the football. It will take time for Scalzo to earn his stripes at UK if he does indeed sign. UK already has some good QB’s in their program that have been around for awhile that are due a shot. Is Scalzo that good that you would build an offense around him? Scalzo’s size is a little concerning also. I don’t see a whole lot of change in Gran’s offense coming anytime soon, especially in 2018. I just hope he throws the football to Conrad and the other TE’s more than he has in the past.

  2. I don’t think Stoops or Gran have any idea what kind of offense they want to run, other than hand it off and hope the qb doesn’t get killed. If Gran planned to make changes, he would not have gone after Terry Wilson. That tells you Gran expects to have at least 2 more years of handing it off, hoping a back can pick up a few years, and praying the qb doesn’t need to throw it with his 55% accuracy. In the SEC you have to be able to pass and run. Benny is good, but he cannot run over SEC linemen; not many can. If our OL is no better than last year, it will be very tough. Your qb has to have time and has to complete 65-70% for UK to be competitive with better teams. I don’t think Wilson has that in him and not sure our receivers do either.

  3. What Stoops and Gran need are their fair share of 5* football players that go to Alabama, LSU, Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee, occasionally.

  4. Here’s the problem Pup, why would a 5 star player come to play at KY unless he was from KY. Some would argue that Tim Couch would have had a more productive pro career if he had gone to FL, TN, or AL. Some would say that KY lacks the ability to develop players. I am just not sure that Stoops can make KY competitive in the SEC, but I don’t know who else could either.

    1. Just saying better talent makes coaches look real good. Just ask Calipari. There are better basketball coaches than Calipari IMO, but not many out recruit him. UK needs bigger, faster, more talented football players than the other teams they face in the SEC. If UK ever does start signing more 5*’s you will see a vast improvement in their football team

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