UK Football

Stoops sticking with Wilson as Kentucky’s starter. Is QB’s time running out?

There have been times that Terry Wilson could have passed the ball and didn’t.

There have been times Kentucky’s sophomore quarterback hasn’t been as sharp as coaches have wanted him to be.

“He’s not played his best the past couple of games,” Coach Mark Stoops said of Wilson at Monday’s football news conference.

But Wilson will be the starting quarterback when No. 12 Kentucky goes to Missouri on Saturday, Stoops said. He met with Wilson earlier in the day to discuss things.

That doesn’t mean Cats coaches won’t be looking at other options this week, with Stoops saying: “We’ll work Gunnar (Hoak) pretty extensively this week as well.”

In a strong wind, Wilson struggled in the passing game last week versus Vanderbilt, completing just three of his nine pass attempts for 18 yards. He also had a fumble on the opening drive of the game. His three lost fumbles this season is tied for seventh-most nationally.

“There were times he could’ve thrown the ball and didn’t,” Stoops said of Wilson’s performance on Saturday. “That’s where that needs to be fixed. That I can’t defend. ... There is an obligation to play the game and to run the plays that are there. There were some opportunities that we didn’t throw the ball, that we need to get fixed. We will. I have confidence that we will. ... (Wilson) will start, but once again, I also owe an obligation to the rest of our team to put us in a position to win. You have to have other guys ready to go.”

On the season, Wilson has completed 78 of 122 passes for 721 yards and four touchdowns along with five interceptions.

The quarterback also gives UK some options in the run game and is second on the team in rushing with 78 for 395 yards and three scores.

The passing game problems aren’t all Wilson’s fault, though, Stoops said, pointing at coaches, wide receivers, the offensive line and others. “We’re all in this together. … We need to play better at that position.”

Hoak has played in two games this season, completing eight of 14 passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns.

Stoops spoke about how the coaches are trying to help Wilson.

“It will start with us and the coaching and what we’re doing, the position we are putting him in to be successful,” the UK head coach said. “And also getting the quarterback to pull the pin and to make accurate throws and just to trust himself. He has done that this year. He has been successful. He has put us in a position to get to the spot we are in right now. But he has also not played his best the past couple of games. So we have to look at that. That’s all of our responsibilities, it always is, starting with the coaching staff. Certainly Terry (Wilson) will take his part and on down to the protection and the receivers and so on. We’re always in this together. It’s never any one person’s fault, but certainly we need to play better at that position.”

Stoops was asked whether Wilson had lost confidence.

“I don’t know. I don’t think so. I talked to Terry, I talked to Terry today before this and he doesn’t see it that way,” Stoops said. “We need to watch the film and get some things corrected, and get back on the field..”

Addressing the kicking game

Quarterback isn’t the only position where Kentucky needs to play better and might be looking at other options. Stoops said if there had been a next kick in the Vanderbilt game, he would have tried true freshman Chance Poore over senior Miles Butler.

So if there’s a next kick at Missouri on Saturday, will Poore be the kicker? Stoops didn’t rule it out, saying: “We’ll see how the week goes.”

Butler has made all 25 extra points attempted this season, but is just 3-for-7 on field goals, missing kicks of 36, 39 and two from 43 yards.

UK can play Poore for up to four games this season and still maintain his redshirt, per a new NCAA rule. The bowl game, which the Cats are now qualified for, counts toward that total.

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader