By LARRY VAUGHT
From the time preseason practice started, Kentucky coach Mark Stoops indicated that he likely would name a starting quarterback for the season opener against Central Michigan the Monday of game week.
Now Stoops isn’t sure he’ll even do that Monday so Central Michigan — and even game two opponent Florida — won’t know exactly whether to prepare for Gunnar Hoak or Terry Wilson.
“Doesn’t hurt to have them work on a few more things for a week as well. And it is very close. Not trying to be deceitful there, maybe I just haven’t made up my mind yet. So we’ll see how that goes,” Stoops said Tuesday.
Hoak is perceived as the more accurate passer while Wilson is considered the most dangerous playmaker. Stoops has not said that, but fans seem to believe that.
Stephen Johnson led UK to seven wins last season with some courageous performances. But remember this — Kentucky had ONE TOUCHDOWN PASS THE FINAL SEVEN GAMES.
Johnson completed 189 of 316 passes for 2,305 yards and 10 scores with only six interceptions. But in those final seven games when UK had just one touchdown pass it went 2-5 with wins over only Tennessee and Vanderbilt and was no match for Mississippi State, Georgia and Louisville. Johnson threw for 138 yards or less in those three blowout losses.
That’s why Stoops and his staff have emphasized a downfield passing game more in spring practice and again this month in preseason camp.
Stoops says he’s seen both quarterbacks improve their confidence, poise and decision makaing.
“We were getting into the habit early on in camp, they were holding the ball too long and getting a false sense of protection and time. And I felt like as their confidence has grown, they’re getting rid of the ball and being more efficient with the football, knowing where to go and seeing the windows and getting rid of the ball and really the three of them, I’ve been very impressed with,” Stoops said.
“They’ve really made some big jumps even in the last week, the last 10 days. Gunnar and Terry, those guys have really looked good. They’ve done some good things.”