Just as we predicted (hoped?), there’s a good chance that Kentucky will play more than one quarterback in Saturday night’s opener against UL-Lafayette. At his Monday press luncheon, Mark Stoops said he wants to get backup quarterback Drew Barker a series if possbile.
“Absolutely, I’d like to,” said the head coach. “I’d like to early when the game’s on the line. But we will see about that. I’d like to.”
Barker, the highly touted redshirt freshman from Conner High School, lost out in the starting quarterback competition to junior Patrick Towles, who started all 12 Kentucky games last season. Towles is expected to take the vast majority — if not all — of the snaps on Saturday.
It would be smart, however, to get Barker’s feet wet. The SEC is an unforgiving league. Few and far between are the quarterbacks who can make it through a season without missing at least a series or two, much less a game, because of injury. No coach wants to suddenly throw an untested rookie into the fire.
Plus, Barker is obviously talented. Despite Towles having the upper hand, Barker performed well enough in spring drills to push the quarterback competition into the summer. Barker’s performance in fall camp caused Stoops and new offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson to wait until 10 days into camp before naming Towles the starter.
Here is video of Barker after losing the quarterback battle:
By all reports, Towles has performed well in camp. Going through the full season in 2014 will undoubtedly help the former Highlands star in 2015. He appears more comfortable in his role this fall. He has always been a confident sort and that hasn’t changed — Towles told Paul Finebaum that UK expects to be playing in the SEC title game in Atlanta come December — and he has taken on more of a leadership role. Towles should have a good year.
As for Dawson, the former West Virginia offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach said earlier in camp that he has never really played two quarterbacks before. Injuries are exceptions, of course. The “Air Raid” model puts major importance on timing and repetitions. The No. 1 quarterback needs as many reps as he can accumulate. That often leaves the No. 2 quarterback on the bench.
“But never say never,” Dawson said.
After all, there are plenty of reasons to make sure Barker is prepared should his services be required.