Kentucky Could Play Multiple Quarterbacks Against Missouri
The Kentucky Wildcats are off to their best start in 40 years with a 6-1 record and are bowl eligible for a third straight season. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. Going into a huge road game in Columbia, Mark Stoops made a big announcement on Monday evening. The Cats head man says Kentucky could play multiple quarterbacks against Missouri.
A One Dimensional Offense
During the summer there was a battle for the starting quarterback between Terry Wilson and Gunnar Hoak. Eventually the junior college transfer Wilson won the job. While he has amassed one of the best records ever by a first-year Wildcat, he has struggled of late.
Through seven games, Wilson has thrown for 721 yards with four touchdowns and five interceptions. His best game came in breaking the 31-year losing streak to Florida in which he threw for 151 yards and two scores. However, during the last three games, Wilson only has 248 yards through the air and two touchdowns.
Starting with the Texas A&M loss, he has looked tentative and unsure of himself. As a result during last week’s win over Vanderbilt, he completed only three of nine passes for 18 yards and a score to Lynn Bowden. The 18 yards are the lowest in a Kentucky win since they only mustered 15 in a 2011 win over Tennessee. On his weekly radio show, Stoops said: “we have a lot of confidence in Terry, but he didn’t play a very good game last week.”
Currently, the Kentucky passing game ranks 123rd out of 129 teams in college football averaging 127 yards per game. That ranks them just ahead of the military schools and Georgia Tech which are teams who primarily rely on the running game.
A Classic Drop Back Passer
As a redshirt sophomore, Hoak has been in the Kentucky program for three years now. He was one of the stars of the 2018 spring game and has seen action in two games. When Wilson went down with an injury, Hoak stepped in with the Cats trailing Central Michigan and led an impressive scoring drive. In addition, he threw another touchdown pass in the blowout win over Murray State.
For the season the Dublin, Ohio native has completed eight of 14 passes for 127 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Where Wilson is a dual-threat player who has also rushed for 395 yards, Hoak is the classic drop-back passer.
As Wilson has struggled, many True Blue fans have been clamoring for Hoak to get a chance. That includes his parents who have been very vocal on social media the last couple of weeks. It looks like they will get their wish on Saturday against a mediocre Missouri defense. Stoops even mentioned the possibility of playing third-string quarterback Danny Clark. The redshirt freshman played briefly against Murray State rushing for a touchdown.
One player who won’t be lining up at quarterback is Benny Snell, except in an extreme emergency.
BREAKING: Benny Snell is NOT one of the “several” quarterback options Mark Stoops is considering playing this Saturday! pic.twitter.com/bNVlyxBSL1
— Maggie Davis (@MaggieDavisKSR) October 23, 2018
It’s hard to believe that another quarterback will be given a chance with such a good record but that’s what Kentucky is doing. They have to find something to jump-start the offense.
Changes In The Kicking Game
One other position the coaching staff has been looked hard at is the kicking game. While senior Miles Butler has made all 25 extra points he has only connected on three of seven field goals. His 43 yard attempt in overtime against Texas A&M fell short. And, last week he missed from 39 yards.
With Butler’s struggles look for true freshman Chance Poore to take over the kicking duties. Ranked by one service as the number one kicker in the 2018 class, Poore has a strong leg but has been inconsistent in practice. The Wildcats aren’t Alabama, they can’t afford to leave points on the field due to missed field goals.
Scouting The Missouri Tigers
While True Blue fans wait to see if Kentucky could play multiple quarterbacks against Missouri, let’s look at the Tigers. Barry Odom‘s club comes into Saturday sporting a 4-3 record. However, they are winless in the conference. Last Saturday, they gave up 33 points to a Memphis club playing without its best player in Darrell Henderson.
On the season, Missouri ranks 96th in college football giving up 419 yards a game with 287 of that coming through the air.
Regardless of who plays quarterback against Missouri one thing that should not change is Snell remaining the focus of the offense.
In two previous games against the Tigers, the conference’s leading rusher has run for 309 yards and four touchdowns. Furthermore, his 192 yards two years ago are a career-high against an SEC foe. After a subpar game against Texas A&M, Snell rebounded in a big way with 169 yards and a score.
Looking at the other side of the ball the match up of Drew Lock versus the Kentucky defense is fascinating. Matt House’s squad ranks first in the SEC giving up only 12 points per game. Once again they came up huge against Vanderbilt.
— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 23, 2018
Stopping Albert Okwuegbunam and the rest of the Tiger receivers is going to be a key. The pre-season All-SEC tight end comes off of a 159 yard and three touchdown performance against Memphis. Kentucky has been susceptible to the long ball in the past.
Stoops is taking a huge risk with the idea Kentucky could play multiple quarterbacks against Missouri. If it pays off then he will look like a genius, if not then the “keyboard warriors” will be out in full force.
The staff says the plan is to start Wilson and then “see what happens from there.” This could be nothing more than a huge smoke screen to motivate his quarterback and giving the Tigers something else to prepare for.
Kentucky will not beat Missouri scoring 14 points. With possibly the biggest game in 40 years next week against Georgia they can ill afford to overlook this contest.
It should be a close contest that may come down to the kicking game. The pick here is the Wildcats go to 7-1 and beat the Tigers for a fourth straight time.
Kentucky 31 Missouri 28
As mentioned earlier, the Wildcats host the Bulldogs next week in a potential battle for the SEC East title. Next week, we will look ahead to Georgia here at Last Word On College Football.