Mark Stoops, CJ Conrad on Kentucky's quarterback situation

by:Mrs. Tyler Thompson07/16/18

@MrsTylerKSR

Kentucky’s quarterback situation was a hot topic at SEC Media Days, but as expected, Mark Stoops said he doesn’t have a target date by which to name Gunnar Hoak or Terry Wilson starter.

“No, I really don’t,” Stoops said. “I think it would be reckless just to make the decision until it plays out. We’ll just see how it goes.”

Neither Hoak nor Wilson have played in a game for Kentucky yet, but Stoops expressed confidence that whoever starts will guide the offense in the right direction.

“It’s obviously a very unique situation, but on the flip side of that, I feel like these guys aren’t very inexperienced. They haven’t taken a college snap in a game for us or anything like that, but they’ve been around. Gunnar’s been in our system, he understands it very clearly. He’s been around our program for some time. And obviously with Terry, having the experience at Oregon, going to a junior college and playing a lot of football. They’re both very poised and very confident.

“Gunnar is a guy I have great confidence in. You all that have watched us practice, watched the spring games, you’ve seen him. He’s very poised. He’s very accurate. He makes good decisions. He can make all the throws. And I like the leadership he brings and the confidence that he has on the field. With Terry, he’s very athletic. He brings a skill set that I’m not sure you can see fully until you get in a game situation because in a scrimmage, we’re never completely live. I think, in a way, that hinders him some. Just getting out there and playing the game. Again, he’s a very confident guy, works extremely hard. He can run and throw, so we’ll see where it goes. ”

Helping matters will be a veteran cast of supporting characters, including All-SEC running back Benny Snell and senior CJ Conrad, who is returning from injury. Conrad said he and Snell are ready to help mold Hoak or Wilson into a leader.

“I think the thing with the quarterbacks — because it’s been asked about a lot — we see these guys in practice on a daily basis, so these guys are comfortable throwing to us. Just because they haven’t played in a game doesn’t mean they — we respect those guys. We think all those guys are really talented. I think knowing that they don’t have to take that huge leadership role yet, I think that’s going to be beneficial for them for sure because guys like me and Benny, we can help them get to that moment. When they get in the game, their natural ability and their leadership ability will take over like Stephen [Johnson]’s did.”

Conrad said the biggest change he’s seen in Hoak is his confidence. The redshirt sophomore is no longer the quiet guy who arrived on campus back in 2016.

“I think Gunnar, the things I’ve seen, I just think he’s grown. He’s more vocal than you guys think, I guess. When he first got here, he wasn’t. He was exactly what you guys think. He was very quiet. But now, I can definitely see he’s got a lot more confidence and overall is just doing a lot better job of being vocal. He’s a guy that’s there every single day but at the quarterback position, you do have to speak. Stephen [Johnson] wasn’t that loud at first either, but it’s all about confidence at the end of the day and you can see that confidence going into Gunnar.”

As for Wilson, Conrad said that even though he joined the team mid-year, he quickly found his footing and hasn’t missed a beat.

“The thing you don’t know about Terry is Terry is a good dude. He works extremely hard. He’s there every single day. He’s a guy you can rely on. You get guys who come, mid-years, and sometimes it takes a little while to transition. I haven’t seen any bumps in his road so far. He hit the road running.”

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