Yesterday one of UK’s most talked about players made his SEC debut. Quarterback Patrick Towles had officially burned his redshirt and was dressed to play in rotation with Jalen Whitlow against Mississippi State. Going in during the first quarter Towles played for a total of two series before leaving the field-clearly injured. According to head coach Joker Phillips, Towels injured his right ankle while trying to break a tackle and get his pass off.
“He took the sack in his second series, during the 12 yard loss- and again, a lot of that has to do with youth. You’re not going to break tackles when the guy has both arms wrapped around you- just go down… That’s how competitive he is, though. That was my advice to him. Maybe last year he could break those tackles, but now you can’t- just go down. I like how he competed, but you just have to go down and live to play another play.” Phillips said.
You can take a lot from Towles’ 2 series played, however. Towles had 71 passing yards for a touchdown and his longest pass was 32 yards. He also had 5 completions of 6 throws and no interceptions. His only true mistake was trying to break the tackle that resulted in his only sack and a loss of 12 yards.
As Towles talked to the press for the first time since his redshirt was pulled, it was very evident that he is a quarterback in the truest sense. He was confident in his ability and it was made clear he loved every second on the field and couldn’t wait to get back out there, he also showed leadership and a true love for the game and BBN. There were several questions about whether he would apply for a medical redshirt as they believe he has a right ankle sprain.
“Coach Phillips gave me the opportunity to play and I want to play- if that wasn’t apparent, me burning my redshirt and coming out to play, I WANT to play. This medical redshirt stuff is great if I can’t get back on the field, but I want back on the field.” Towles said.
Joker and Towles both reiterated on the fact that “injuries are a part of football”. Towels said that he is going to “work hard and rehab to make sure he gets back out as soon as possible.”
If it is a minor ankle sprain, Towles could be back in a week or two and he continued to play it off as a minor injury stating he did that several times in high school. The boot and crutches he had during the press conference spoke a different story however. Towles took full responsibility for his “rookie” mistake saying, “I should have got rid of the ball and I didn’t, it was obviously my fault and that’s why I’m
sitting here in a boot. I just have to do the best I can do to get better and get back out there.”
There were a lot of positives out of this young team: Joker said they have played 14 true freshman, and 4-5 redshirt freshman on D alone in addition to the two quarterbacks as well as numerous freshman on special teams. Phillips said the two young QB’s had different packages of plays to run.
All the coaches and players seemed pleased with Towles’ performance, himself included and they seem to rally behind him and the fans support. On finally getting on the field Towles said, “I wouldn’t say it was relief, it was reassurance. I knew I could play here and I knew I could play with these guys. It was just nice to really get that kind of (fan) support with that first drive.”
Joker said “ Towles went in and got his first touchdown and I thought he looked really good doing it.”
Now that fans have seen what this freshman can truly do, the hope of the team is that they will rally behind these young guys and support- whether Whitlow or Towles is in.
Whitlow did not have the game he planned and according to Randy Sanders had Towless not gotten injured we would have seen a lot more of him saying that “To put it nicely, [Whitlow] was not anywhere close to what we expected or needed.” Whitlow also knew that it just wasn’t his day saying “I couldn’t have thrown it into the ocean.” Towles took it upon himself to “get behind Jalen and help him get into
the mindset to win.”
Heading onto the road there are some good things we can see in the Cats- the defense allowed only 7 points in the second half WITHOUT senior Martavious Neloms, had 39 rushing yards and 73 passing and freshman phenom punter, Landon Foster had 8 punts for 350 yards- his longest was 56 yards. UK also had zero interceptions and Avery Williamson had 13 total tackles. This young team shows a
lot of potential and drive- they have to develop more, but believe it or not it isn’t all bad.