Kentucky opened its football practice Tuesday. Here’s some of the action.
If the key positions with battles going on have been decided, Mark Stoops isn’t ready to talk about it.
He’ll leave some of those for Monday when Kentucky’s official depth chart is released as part of game week for Central Michigan. Will that include an “OR” between quarterbacks Gunnar Hoak and Terry Wilson?
After an open practice for the media on Tuesday as the Cats closed camp, the UK head coach said he hasn’t made a quarterback decision.
“We wanted to get through today,” said Stoops, who is giving the team off on Wednesday for the start of classes. “Our goal was for Monday. I believe I said (on the radio) as well that I wasn’t exactly sure if I’d release that on Monday or not because they are different options there at quarterback.
“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.”
The signal callers have been rotating, but on Tuesday, Wilson was with the first team in the first rounds of drills that media were allowed to watch.
Hoak, Wilson, Danny Clark and Walker Wood all led different offensive combinations throughout the practice. Stoops seemed especially pleased with how well they did in a drill that required all of them to throw down the field into tight coverage.
Stoops has seen their confidence grow during camp, especially in decision making. There was a lot of holding onto the ball too long early, in part because the guys competing for the job didn’t want to turn the ball over.
“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.”
Eddie Gran has been paying close attention to the quarterbacks, especially in two-minute drills and other situations where a miscue can cost the game.
“Running the offense with an urgency, guys competing, our quarterbacks competing with an understanding that you cannot take a sack with 13 seconds left and you’re at the 12-yard line and it’s only second down,” the offensive coordinator said.
▪ As with the QB talk, it was a similar round-about discussion on the kicker battle, which included several quick field goals in early drills for Miles Butler, Chance Poore and even former punter Grant McKinniss, who attempted some kicks. Stoops said: “I’ll go over all that on Monday.
▪ The offensive line could go as deep as eight or nine players, with Darian Kinnard getting some praise from Stoops as a true freshman that stood out in camp the same way Naasir Watkins did last season and Landon Young did the year before.
“We feel like he’s in a position where he could play,” Stoops said of the true freshman from Knoxville. “We’re trusting him. He’s doing a very good job. He’s in the top eight, nine right now. We’ll just kind of see where that goes.”
▪ Some options at punt return included David Bouvier, Akeem Hayes, Sihiem King and Mike Edwards. While media were on the field, Edwards appeared to lose one in the sun and it bounced off his shoulder.
▪ Linebacker Jordan Jones is back and seemed his usual energetic practice self, complaining when he was held out of a drill.
“He hasn’t been out there much,” Stoops said of the senior. “He’s been off and on. He’s had two or three different things going on with him. Hopefully he’s back now full go. We’ll see.”
▪ Ahmad Wagner, the Iowa basketball player turned wide receiver, is a big human being, and he had some impressive catches. Gran said the junior had some contested ones in practice on Monday, too.
“The last couple of days, you really see that explosiveness for that big body,” Gran said of the 6-foot-5, athletic player. “For as big as he is, he can run. … I’m anxious to see what he looks like in about six weeks. You know, you just don’t know, you know? The guy hasn’t played football in a long time, but boy you can see it.”
▪ Offensive tackle E.J. Price did not practice while coming back from what Stoops described as “lingering issues going on with both of his hands. Hopefully nothing that should keep him out too long. It’s been off and on.”
▪ UK added a sophomore transfer from Middle Tennessee in linebacker Harold Lacy, a 6-foot-2, 225-pound sophomore. He’s a former teammate of nose tackle Quinton Bohanna at Cordova High School. .... True freshman wide-out Allen Dailey has changed to No. 89 after wearing No. 86 in preseason camp. … Kentucky announced on Tuesday that linebacker Ashtan Pierre, who was supposed to be unavailable this season after not qualifying, is now on campus and will practice, but not compete in the fall as a redshirt.