Gran, Hinshaw discuss backup quarterback situation
Most of the quarterback talk lately has understandably been about Drew Barker's health and Stephen Johnson as team's new starter, at least for now.
But there's another issue potentially looming on the horizon. How will the coaches be prepared to manage the backup quarterback situation?
One quarterback has already gone down with an injury and it's not immediately clear when Drew Barker will be ready to get back on the field.
That means Johnson is the Cats' starter going into the South Carolina game and potentially after that, but where does it leave backup quarterbacks Luke Wright and Gunnar Hoak?
Wright has the experience edge in some respects. He's older than Hoak but perhaps more significant is the fact that he's been with Eddie Gran and Darin Hinshaw, in their offense, for much longer. His transfer to Kentucky occurred when Gran and Hinshaw made the move to Lexington themselves.
Hoak was the more heralded, sought-after recruit, and he's the scholarship player. Those accolades don't mean anything now that both Hoak and Wright are in the program and vying to be the next man up.
Both Gran and Hinshaw addressed the backup quarterback situation after practice on Tuesday.
When Gran was asked which quarterback was receiving the backup reps -- which means, in effect, he was asked which quarterback is currently number two behind Johnson -- he gave a clear answer.
"Gunnar's going right now and getting the backup reps," Gran told reporters. "Luke is ready to go. He's done a great job, I think mentally especially. It's really close between the two of them. Both of them have got to be ready. Those two right now have to be ready to come in and play."
The ideal situation coming into the season would have been for the coaches to keep Hoak's redshirt. The former Dublin Coffman (Ohio) quarterback arrived at Kentucky a semester early, so he's been in the program for a few months longer than some of the Cats' other true freshmen. But he's still new to college football.
Now he's potentially one snap from becoming an SEC starter.
With Barker out of action for an undetermined amount of time it's entirely possible that Hoak could be called upon. Gran acknowledged that he can't promise Hoak will keep his redshirt.
"I think sometimes it can happen in a game," Gran said of the redshirt issue and whether it might be burned. "Sometimes when it happens right there immediately you have to make those decisions. At a certain point you say no. At a certain point you say yes."
That 'certain point' doesn't seem to have arrived one way or another. As long as Barker is out and not playing, Johnson's health and success will be what determines whether Hoak keeps his redshirt. That and whether Hoak can stay ahead of Wright on the depth chart in what Gran said is currently a close race.
When Hinshaw was asked about Hoak and Wright he didn't mention any sort of personal preference, instead opting to praise both players for the work they've done so far.
"Luke knows the offense inside and out," Hinshaw said. "He's been obviously at Cincinnati and here. He knows everything and where to go. Gunnar's obviously younger, just a true freshman, and he hasn't been around the offense as much. But (he's) a very talented quarterback, so I'm excited about both of them. They both bring different assets and different things to the table. So we're going to get them both ready to play in case they have to play."