Tuesday, June 13, 2000

Lorenzen's arm wins QB job

UK coach says Bonner couldn't 'stretch the field'

The Associated Press

        LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky football coach Hal Mumme said Monday he made a mistake when he named Dusty Bonner the Wildcats' starting quarterback out of spring practice.

        Following a highly publicized competition between Bonner and redshirt freshman Jared Lorenzen (Highlands High School) during the spring, Mumme announced that Bonner had retained his starting job. But after going back and evaluating video of the team's spring drills and scrimmages, Mumme changed his mind and selected Lorenzen.

        “I went into the film room with the idea that I was going to prove myself right, that it would really be apparent to me that what I had said was correct,” Mumme said in his first public comments about the situation. “About two or three days later, when I came out of the film room, I couldn't say that and concluded I'd made too hasty a decision.

        “What kept popping out to me was the fact that the last four games last season we averaged about 18 points a game, which isn't near enough. We had safeties and linebackers really playing forward on us and pressing us, and I felt like we weren't stretching the field enough.”

        Bonner led the Southeastern Conference in six offensive categories last season, throwing for 3,264 yards and 26 touchdowns in taking over the starting job from Tim Couch.

        Despite praising Bonner during the spring for building his arm strength, Mumme said he believed Lorenzen's arm and athleticism would force teams to defend his offense more honestly.

        His concern with Lorenzen, a former Kentucky Mr. Football from Highlands had been academics. But Lorenzen finished spring semester with a 3.0 grade point average, which also played a role in the decision, Mumme said.

        “I had to wait until the middle of May to find out about his academic performance,” Mumme said. “In the process of looking at pluses and minuses, I just kept asking myself, "As a coach, how can you get better?' I could give Jared experience, but I couldn't make Dusty's arm stronger.

        “That's the bottom line. I couldn't stretch the field anymore without a change.”

        Mumme informed both players of his decision when they returned for summer workouts. Bonner said Saturday he planned to transfer to Division II Valdosta State. The school is in his hometown in Georgia, and the head coach is former Kentucky quarterbacks coach Chris Hatcher.

        The move leaves the pass-happy Wildcats without any Division I experience at quarterback. Neither Lorenzen, backup Mark Perry nor incoming freshman Shane Boyd have ever appeared in a college game.

        “After watching the video and looking at last year, the end of the season in particular, I considered it more of a gamble not to make the move,” Mumme said.

        “In Jared, we have a guy that can just really throw the football. Jared weighs 270 pounds and is never going to be one of those guys who gets down to 250. People are just going to have to get used to the idea of having a 6-5, 270-pound quarterback who looks like a linebacker.”


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