Mixed reviews come out of UK’s first scrimmage on the quarterbacks

Fans wait in line to get autographs from the quarterbacks during fan day at the Joe Craft Football Training Facility on Saturday, August 5, 2017 in Lexington, KY. Photo by Addison Coffey | Staff

Chris Leach

Through two weeks of football training camp, Stephen Johnson and Drew Barker have worked to impress the coaches to earn the starting quarterback job.

However, up until this point, neither quarterback has done much to separate themselves. Heading into the first scrimmage of the season on Saturday, both had a chance to set themselves apart from the other, but that did not take place. 

“I saw both guys really do a good job of protecting the football first and foremost,” Mark Stoops said. “Thought both guys really showed up at times with some impressive throws, and threw it in some really tight windows.”

On a day where Stoops described the overall performance in the scrimmage as, “okay,” the quarterbacks seemed to have good days. Of course the quarterbacks still have things to improve on, but mostly compliments were said about the quarterbacks after the scrimmage.

“I thought at times we were really good and at times we were poor,” Eddie Gran said. “I think for a first scrimmage they protected the ball well and I thought our protection was pretty good, pass protection.”

Johnson seemed to be the most skeptical of his performance, also describing it as, “okay.” A fumble on the first offensive drive was the main issue mentioned from today’s scrimmage, a drive that was likely led by Johnson.

Ball security problem persists in scrimmage

“Offensively we could’ve done a little better, I know myself I could’ve done a lot better but I think overall it was an okay scrimmage,” Johnson said. “I think we’ll be a lot better for the next scrimmage.”

As for Barker, he thought the scrimmage went well. Barker has been completely healthy for the entire training camp after returning from a back injury, with today being his first live-game experience since the injury.

In previous practices, coaches have said Barker has looked good coming off the injury. Many thought it would take Barker time to return to his normal-self coming off the injury, but he said he felt good in the scrimmage to go along with practices.

“If there was any rust at all, it was knocked off in the first couple of practices,” Barker said. “I felt 100 percent comfortable.”

Gran and Stoops offered no insight on who might be winning the quarterback battle, meaning they’ll need to continue to impress in practice and future scrimmages to win the job. 

It might be a difficult process for a coach to figure out a starting quarterback when they have two good options, but for Stoops, he is just happy to see some competition at the position.

“I like seeing that, I like seeing that competitive plays you get when it’s good defense and good offense and somebody making a play and I saw that at times today,” Stoops said.