Kentucky Wildcats Football: QB Concerns


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With the news that Reese Phillips tore his Achilles tendon in offseason last week, the spotlight really focused on the quarterback battle between Drew Barker and Patrick Towles to start the upcoming season. The Kentucky Wildcats Football team is  set to go into the year with only two scholarship passers and a couple of true freshman walk-ons at the position. It’s a precarious position to be in, especially when you consider that both Barker and Towles take more hits that the average QB due to a penchant to make plays with their feet. The staff will also have to be mindful of overworking their two passers in practice this Spring. They already had Coach Dawson going through passing drills during the first practice.

Towles started every game in 2014 and only missed a handful of snaps despite various dings. Phillips didn’t really impress in limited action against Tennessee either. He is a big body who can take the grind of an SEC season but Kentucky fans remember that the Cats were forced to play a wide receiver at QB not so long ago. Several times in recent seasons Kentucky has started it’s third quarterback at some point. Don’t forget the potential legal issues surrounding Barker. So depth needs to be addressed. Obviously two four stars atop the depth chart is good, but what do they do if both are hurt and Louisville stands between them and bowl eligibility?

Well there are the walk-ons for starters. It’s not that uncommon for a lower-rated quarterback to excel in an Air Raid offense. Neal Brown had a few at Texas Tech. The offense doesn’t require an NFL skill set, just solid intelligence and decent accuracy. And, if you listen to Shannon Dawson, big hands. Kentucky has two preferred walk-ons coming in this year in Male’s Davis Mattingly and St. X Noah Houk. Houk is a relative unknown, but Mattingly was reportedly in the conversation for a scholarship offer at one point.

Obviously that scenario isn’t ideal, so perhaps the coaches could look to find a late JUCO addition or a graduate transfer passer following Spring practice. There are usually a few guys who become available after learning their place on the depth chart. Obviously it’s a tough sell for a senior to transfer in and continue as a backup in Lexington. A JUCO that would be eligible in the Fall could be a viable option.

Another idea no one has mentioned is to take on a true freshman who may be committed elsewhere as a grey shirt. A prime example could be Lexington Catholic’s Reese Ryan. Ryan was once a four star prospect but for whatever reason is holding off enrollment at Western Kentucky. This could be a case when a need overrides the staff’s attitude toward never settling.

Either way, Kentucky needs to settle on a starting quarterback in the Spring, then focus on keeping him upright in the Fall. After the two-deep there is nothing but question marks right now and this season is the one that will define Mark Stoops’ tenure in Lexington. He can’t afford another losing year. That’s why you should expect a move to shore up the position.

Next: Anthony Davis returns with a vengeance

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