QBs ‘Feeding Off Each Other’ with Playing Time up in the Air

The week began with an apparent big change for Kentucky.

The competition at quarterback between Patrick Towles and Drew Barker was open anew, making for a compelling week.

But in reality, the change isn’t all that significant, not in practice anyway.

“It’s just been a normal practice week so far,” Barker said on Tuesday. “We’re just going 50-50 like always, still preparing the same way that I have been this whole time. Nothing really drastically different at all.”

What is different is the way offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson is talking about who will play come Saturday at Vanderbilt.

“Really, it’s almost 50/50 every week,” Dawson said. “We’ve done that for a long time, so it just hasn’t changed. He’s still getting a lot of reps. By he, I mean both of them.”

In spite of the air of mystery, Dawson already has a good idea how UK will approach playing time at the position. He’s not tipping his hand though.

“We’re evaluating it through the week,” Dawson said. “We got a plan, put it that way, and we’ll stick to the plan. I think it’s the right one, I think it’s a good one. We’ve got one more practice this week and obviously we’ll evaluate that one, but we got a plan.”

Towles, on the contrary, was more open.

“Yes, I am sure that I will be out there playing,” Towles said. “Yes.”

What that doesn’t rule out is the possibility of both quarterbacks playing, but Barker won’t engage in that kind of speculation.

“It’s up to the coaches,” Barker said. “Whatever they want to do, I’m going to support it. If it’s Patrick, I’m going to support him 100 percent. It’s all up to them and I have faith in what they’re going to do. I’m not worried about it.”

Towles and Barker are both taking a healthy approach to the situation, which is easier to do thanks to the strong relationship they share. Barker has been Towles’ biggest fan when he’s on the sideline and vice versa.

“We’re on the same team,” Towles said. “A lot of people outside this building might not think so, but we’re on the same team. We want to see each other succeed. We’re talking about looks, about ‘hey, what do you think if this happens and where are you thinking about going with the football?’ and stuff like that. We’re on the same team off the field too.”

That includes meetings, film sessions and everything else.

“Basically just feeding off of each other,” Barker said. “We’re two football-minded people so usually when you get in a room with another football-minded person you just bounce ideas off each other.”

Towles and Barker will certainly need each other come Saturday, when Kentucky will take on a Commodore defense that ranks in the top 20 nationally, allowing 316.1 yards and 17.4 points per game.

“They're good,” Mark Stoops said. “They're good and they're back to where they were a couple years ago when you saw a Vandy team that was capable of winning a whole heck of a lot of games. I think Coach (Derek) Mason's done a great job. You can see the passion and the energy in their team, and on their defense in particular. No matter what their record is, they're out there playing extremely hard.”

That defense nearly carried Vandy to a win in the Swamp last weekend, as No. 11 Florida managed just 258 yards and 12 first downs in a narrow 9-7 win.

“They play so hard and they play so tough,” Towles said. “Their coach has done a wonderful job getting those guys to buy in and they do a great job of playing hard. They’re a tough-nosed football team and they’re not going to give us anything. We gotta be sharp and execute well if we want to be successful.”