Decisions are made almost daily about the depth chart and the 22 positions on the Kentucky football team, yet none of those decisions garner as much attention as the ones made at quarterback and there Mark Stoops has an interesting decision to make.
Starting quarterback Jalen Whitlow is out with an injured ankle. How long? No one knows for sure and if they do, they aren’t saying. Stoops doesn’t like to talk in specifics about injuries and on this one all he has acknowledged is that Whitlow will probably not be back in time for the game at Mississippi State next Thursday, October 24.
So Maxwell Smith is once again the starter. Smith needs a backup, however, and the two prime candidates — sophomore Patrick Towles and true freshman Reese Phillips — are quarterbacks that UK has to this point planned on redshirting.
Towles would seem the obvious choice since he did play last season as a true freshman. Then again, that playing time may be the reason that Stoops and Company would not want to play the former Highlands star.
“If it’s gonna be one game, we don’t want either of those backup quarterbacks to play, because we’d like to redshirt both of them,” Stoops said Wednesday. “But Patrick sacrificed a little more in that he’s the sophomore and he wanted to take that redshirt, so I think we got to be conscious of that as well. We’re just looking at the best option. And either of the guys would do whatever we needed them to do. They’ve been very unselfish.”
In other words, with a redshirt year still to use, Towles planned on taking that this season so he could be ready for a full 12-game campaign next year as opposed to playing just a half-season this time around.
“Once we told him where he was at, then of course he wanted to redshirt and get that year back from last year,” Stoops said. “And him being one year older, you’ve got to be a little bit conscious of where he’s at and what he’d like to do. But on the same hand, if he’s going to get an opportunity to truly be the starting quarterback and play, he’s ready to go.”
“Both of them would like that opportunity,” said offensive coordinator Neal Brown. “Obviously Reese is a true freshman, first time going through this deal. It’s a little bit unlucky for Patrick just cause it’s his second year going through this, second opportunity where he could potentially be redshirted. But both of them have a good attitude.”
Said Stoops, “Like I said, both of them are very unselfish If we called them and said, ‘You’re in for four snaps’ and blew their redshirt year, they’d do it.”
But no one wants to do that.
As for Phillips, everything you hear from around the program is the staff really likes the Chattanooga native. Phillips acts like a quarterback, has good fundamentals and throws an accurate ball. He lacks Towles’ size — Phillips is 6-foot-2, 219 pounds; Towles is 6-5, 234 — but Neal Brown has said he believes Phillips has what it takes to be a good quarterback in the SEC.
With Whitlow and Smith both being sophomores, it could be that UK plays Phillips this year, if needed. That would mean next year that Whitlow and Smith would be juniors with Towels and Phillips as sophomores. With Conner star Drew Barker coming in, Phillips could then redshirt in 2013 and be a redshirt sophomore for 2014.
Smith said Wednesday he thinks the coaches already know which way they want to go as far as his backup is concerned but declined to state his guess, deferring to the coaches.
Stoops hinted the same thing.
“Let us look at it for another day or so,” he said. “I’ll probably tell you here prior to the game where we’re at as far as who would be the backup.”
My guess is it will be Phillips, but we shall see.
Patrick Towles’ games in 2012
- 10/6/12 Miss St 5-6-71-1-0 Rating of 237.73
- 10/13/12 @Arkansas 2-5-21-0-0 Rating of 75.28
- 10/27/12 @Missouri 1-4-2-0-0 Rating of 29.20
- 11/3/12 Vanderbilt 8-23-93-0-0 Rating of 68.75
- 11/17/12 Samford 4-6-47-0-1 Rating of 99.13
- 11/24/12 @Tennessee 1-1-20-0-0 Rating of 268.00
- Video: Mark Stoops on backup quarterback situation
- Video: Neal Brown on the offense
- Video: Maxwell Smith on the quarterback situation