UK football prevails through brief identity crisis


Kentucky Wildcats quarterback Gunnar Hoak (12) lines up a pass to a receiver during the game against Murray State on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018, in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky defeated Murray 48-10. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

UK’s football program is through its midlife crisis phase, it may seem. When someone goes through a midlife crisis, at least a stereotypical one, it’s characterized by bold and questionable decisions that the person may have been talking about for a while. UK’s “midlife crisis” came in the form of quarterback changes and a dedication to a one-dimensional offense.

As with someone in a crisis trying to “get out and meet people,” UK’s coaching staff had three suitors they tried out against Missouri in a nail-biting 15-14 win on the road. The suitors were, of course, their quarterbacks Terry Wilson, Gunnar Hoak and Danny Clark.

Clark was an out-there choice. He was a dark horse, an attractive runner that could tuck the ball and had a rushing touchdown against FCS opponent Murray State. It was two yards, but he showed good decision-making and the Cats liked the look of him.

UK put him in for a play while its usual man was still perfect and got caught cheating, but they were forgiven. Clark fumbled carrying the ball on his only offensive play, but his fumble was ruled a normal tackle and play resumed. UK didn’t call Clark back. They possibly deleted his number.

UK’s second suitor was someone they know a little better. Hoak was someone the Cats had been seeing on-and-off for a while, but they still liked the look of him. He was a good pocket passer, and UK even considered making him their main guy out of training camp. Hoak came in after UK was dissatisfied with the guy they were going with at the time, as the offense only got three points through three quarters.

Hoak came in and had a tough time meeting the Cats’ standards. While the fling didn’t go disastrously, it didn’t give the Cats what they needed. Hoak threw for 27 yards on three completions in eight attempts. He possibly exaggerated on his online profile, or he was just nervous for the date. Either way, he had a tough time moving the ball forward, and UK came back to their number one quarterback.

Wilson, the subject of ridicule after his three-completion, 18-yard passing performance against Vanderbilt last week, started off with the Cats’ having heart-eyes for him. Wilson completed his first seven passes, but followed that up with a 5-11 completion rate and only three points to show for it. UK decided to see if there were more fish in the sea, more suitors that they could meet to try to figure out just who they were.

It didn’t work.

Now, after an 81-yard, one-minute-and-24-second drive that capped Wilson’s 267-yard passing performance, the Cats likely reached the end of their midlife (mid-season) crisis. They’ll struggle if they use any more second and third quarters to “find themselves” again.