What Ex-Oklahoma QB Kendal Thompson Brings to Utah

Kyle KensingContributor IFebruary 27, 2014

Nov 16, 2013; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Kendal Thompson (1) runs the ball against Iowa State Cyclones Iowa State Cyclones linebacker Jeremiah George (52) in the second half at Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Former Oklahoma quarterback Kendal Thompson's transfer to Utah—officially announced via Twitter Wednesday by head coach Kyle Whittingham—gives the Utes offense a much-needed safety net in 2014. Thompson is also the latest addition that suggests changes for Utah's offensive philosophy in the coming year. 

Thompson addresses the need for a contingency plan, of which Whittingham spoke to The Deseret News about during the recruiting period. 

(Quarterback Travis Wilson's uncertainty) changes things in the respect that we’re proceeding as if Travis is not going to be available. So that certainly changes our mindset. We’re hoping for the best with Travis. But like I said, as far as our planning, we’ve got to plan as if he’s not going to be with us.

Utah faced three months of uncertainty—stemming from the intracranial artery injury quarterback Travis Wilson was diagnosed with in November—and in February, the Utes signed just one quarterback: Destrehan (La.) 3-star prospect Donovan Isom. 

Though Wilson was cleared for non-contact spring drills earlier this week, his full return is not yet guaranteed. Thus, Thompson solves one dilemma in that he adds some much-needed depth at the position as the second "recruit" of the 2014 class. 

Thompson and Isom will both arrive in the summer to join the lineup of quarterbacks who will have been practicing since spring: Wilson, Adam Schulz, Conner Manning, Brandon Cox and Micah Thomas. 

Beyond simply adding numbers to Utah's quarterback ranks, Thompson is a fit for the philosophy new offensive coordinator Dave Christensen brings with him. 

A 3-star prospect from Oklahoma City Southmoore High School, Thompson commanded the attention of the Oklahoma coaching staff in part with a junior prep year that included 2,793 yards and 29 touchdowns, with another 466 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground, per MaxPreps.com

The Utes should be a much more uptempo team with a more diverse playbook, emphasizing more zone-read elements from the quarterback.  

"There will be changes," Christensen promised in his introductory press conference, per UtahUtes.com

 We would like to push our tempo a little more. We want to make sure we do some things to change the launch point, move the pocket and throw from some different areas. A lot of the stuff, after I've watched the film, what Utah did last year that's going to be similar stuff to what we're doing. We want to take a lot of the plays that I've run in the past and try to make some small changes to those.

The plays Christensen ran in the past maximized the dual-threat abilities of Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel and Wyoming quarterback Brett Smith. Both recorded impressive numbers in Christensen's offense, playing a style that fits the skill sets of both Wilson and Thompson.  

Brett Smith and Chase Daniel Under Dave Christensen
Player, SeasonsPass Comp.-Att.Pass YardsPass TD/INTCarries/YardsRush TD
Brett Smith, 2011-2013751-1,2138,83476/28377/1,52921
Chase Daniel, 2005-20081,094-1,6,0912,515101/41364/97010

Wilson was the first real dual-threat QB Utah had since Brian Johnson in his sophomore campaign, when he rushed for 478 yards and eight touchdowns. A knee injury that sidelined Johnson throughout 2006 limited his rushing ability in the next two seasons. 

After Johnson's departure, Utah went through an unrelenting quarterback drama, as well as a shell game at offensive coordinator. In five seasons, the Utes had five solo or co-offensive coordinators and five different starting quarterbacks. Wilson was the first and only dual-threat signal-caller.

With Thompson and possibly Wilson, Utah may now have two. Christensen will not be forced to mold his play-calling to fit different styles. Thompson gives Utah a contingency that's more Plan 1b than Plan B if Wilson's unavailable.   


Kyle Kensing is the Pac-12 Lead Writer. Statistics compiled via Sports-Reference.com.