LEXINGTON, Ky. — Day 2 of Kentucky spring football is in the books, and while it’s far too early to declare anything definitive about the Wildcats’ quarterback competition, we’ve at least gathered initial thoughts.
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops talked about the quarterbacks Monday. On Tuesday we spoke with offensive coordinator Eddie Gran, quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw, and sophomore quarterback Terry Wilson. Gunnar Hoak, who’s competing with Wilson for the starting job, had class Tuesday after practice and wasn’t available for interviews.
“I expect this will be a long process — but by the middle of spring, I expect us to be a lot better than where we started,” Hinshaw said of his quarterbacks. “By the end of spring, I expect us to be really understanding the offense and making plays and doing what we need at quarterback.”
Hoak is getting most of the first-team reps while Wilson and redshirt freshman Danny Clark are splitting second-team reps, Hinshaw said Tuesday. Redshirt freshman Walker Wood has thrown on air but isn’t getting reps as he recovers from a shoulder injury.
While Hoak being the early recipient of first-team reps might not mean much about who will start Sept. 1, it’s a good reminder that he’s been in the system for two years while Wilson has been with the team for less than two months.
“Gunnar’s way ahead as far as understanding everything and making great decisions,” Hinshaw said. “His accuracy on his throws is very good. I’m pleased with where he’s at. And we’ve got to continue to go through some learning curve with him getting more reps and all that.”
Hoak has been a spring game standout, but he and the rest of Kentucky’s quarterbacks have yet to take a snap in Division I football.
The junior college transfer is behind Hoak when it comes to knowing the playbook, so spring football will require quite a bit of studying for Wilson.
“He’s learning,” Hinshaw said. “The first day was very good. [Tuesday] was, again, good. I’m very pleased with where he’s at. He’s got a long way to go. Again, the learning curve is we’re going to be throwing a lot of things at him these next five practices. There will be one more on Thursday, and then spring break. We’ll have two practices before we scrimmage and there will be a lot thrown on him.”
“It’s going good,” Wilson said of the first two days of spring ball. “You have to be a sponge in meetings and you have to watch film and correct your mistakes. I feel like I’ve been adapting to it pretty well, it’s just a matter of time of getting in the rhythm of everything and I feel like everything else will be good.”
Wilson is trying to learn a new offense and develop chemistry with receivers at the same time.
“There’s times where it looks like he’s spinning a little bit, which you would expect of anybody learning a new offense,” Gran said. “I love his attitude. He comes in all the time. He’s trying to be a sponge and he’s trying to get this thing. It’s a crash course and it’s going to be kind of something where he’s going and we’re going to have so much in that he’s gonna fall. But then he can just start coming back up again and he’ll have a chance for sure.”
As Wilson learns the offense, he’s also learning about his teammates.
“And like I said from the jump, you’ve gotta earn those guys’ respect,” Wilson said. “You’ve gotta come in doing the right things to get those guys to follow you, look up to you and look to you for guidance and everything. I feel like just doing the right thing, going out there and being a positive leader, positive motivator — it brings those guys together.”