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If Towles Goes Down, When Does Barker’s Redshirt Get Pulled?

Photo by Chet White, UK Athletics


After naming Patrick Towles the starter on Monday, Mark Stoops officially announced yesterday what most of the BBN assumed, that UK will attempt to redshirt Drew Barker this year but would prepare him as the backup in case Towels cannot play the entire season.  The question then becomes, at what point is it worth it to burn Barker’s redshirt and at what point is the season a lost cause and the best option is to save Barkers redshirt and play Reese Phillips or Maxwell Smith for the remainder of the season?  It’s a question that must be considered because, as BTI pointed out this week, only two quarterbacks (A.J. McCarron of Alabama and Bo Wallace of Ole Miss) didn’t miss any playing time do to injury last season.  


Scenario 1) Patrick Towles Plays for the Entire Season

Obviously, the best possible scenario as it means that a) Patrick Towles remains injury free and plays well and b) Drew Barker redshirts.  This would be the best of both worlds for Mark Stoops, a successful season while allowing him to build for the future by letting Drew Barker learn on the sidelines and not under the pressure of SEC defenses.


Scenario  2) Patrick Towles Plays Well but is Injured Late in the Season

The key question in this scenario is, “how’s the season going?”  Let’s say that Towles is injured around game eight (at Missouri).  At best UK would likely be 5-3 (wins over UT Martin, Ohio, Vanderbilt,  Louisiana Monroe,  and Mississippi State) and at worst, 3-5 (wins over UT Martin, Ohio, and ULM).

In the 5-3 scenario, there is simply too much to play for not to pull Drew Barker’s redshirt.  The Cats would need just one win over the final four games (at Missouri, vs Georgia, at Tennessee, at Louisville) to become bowl eligible.  Although burning Barker’s redshirt two-thirds of the way into the season is a bitter pill to swallow, having four shots (three of them being “winnable” on paper) at securing a bowl bid is worth trading Barker’s senior season three years from now for a bowl game this season.

Alternatively, in the 3-5 scenario, the season is probably lost at that point as chances at a bowl bid would be so remote that the best option is to play Phillips or Smith for the rest of the season and keep Barker’s redshirt intact.  If UK is 4-4 (splitting the MSU and Vandy games), then pulling Barker’s redshirt depends on how “winnable” two out of the last four games look at the beginning of November.


Scenario 3) Patrick Towles does not play well or is injured early in the season.

Outside of something completely unexpected happening, Towles will get the start in the first three games of the season (UT Martin, Ohio, Florida).  The Cats are almost certain to be 2-1 and no matter what, will still have a lot to play for over the last two thirds of the season beginning with a critical matchup against the rebuilding Commodores following a bye week.   If Towels looks shaky or is injured in the first three games, a bowl berth is still in play and thus enough reason to let Barker play out the rest of the season.

Article written by David Mulloy

38 Comments for If Towles Goes Down, When Does Barker’s Redshirt Get Pulled?

  1. Duh
    8:15 pm August 23, 2014 Permalink

    Isn’t Reece the backup?? Then he would start if Towles went down. Barker’s redshirt won’t be burned if he never sees a play. He can still prepare and dress every single game

  2. DLN
    8:18 pm August 23, 2014 Permalink

    Gotta disagree. I feel if Towles plays well but gets injured, Phillips is consistent enough to get us another win and bowl eligible. The staff really likes Phillips and I would feel comfortable starting him the rest of the season and preserving Barker’s redshirt. And besides, I’d prefer not to have a QB controversy next year any more than we already may.

  3. Rei
    8:19 pm August 23, 2014 Permalink

    I have no faith in Smith’s arm anymore but does KSR have no faith in Phillips? He’s pretty accurate and has had a year or so in the system.

  4. Bunch of Hooey
    8:34 pm August 23, 2014 Permalink

    You aren’t really accurate at all. You wrote that UK would prepare Barker as THE backup to
    Towles, when Stoops actually said “He will prepare to play in a backup role, and if we can save him through the season that’s what we’d like to do.” Stoops did not say THE backup. Stoops did not say Barker is 2nd, 3rd, or 4th string at this point and I would expect coaches to prepare EVERY QB on UK’s roster to backup the starter. Point being, Towles goes down in week 2, then you have no clue at this point who will be named to start. Could easily be Phillips.

    This is another throw away season. I cannot fathom a scenario worth burning Barker’s redshirt unless Phillips gets hurt too and Max Smith’s arm has completely fallen off.

    UK will be 3-5. Sorry, call me a troll. We will not beat Mississippi since we don’t play them. Regardless, if we start 5-3, Towles gets injured, we still are going to be prohibitive underdogs in the last 4 games. To say 3 of the final 4 games on the schedule are winnable is something you probably have to write on a homer website, but it’s also delusional. 3 of those games are away, and the other is UGA at home. So keep Barkers redshirt on and play Phillips in this dumb scenario.

    Your scenario 3 became ridiculous when you say a bowl berth is in play. Even with a healthy and decently performing Towles….uh, no. And yeah, throw Towles under the bus and throw a true freshman that couldn’t win the job to begin with at a rugged SEC schedule looking to get to a bowl?? Thank God you don’t coach UK is what I take away from this post.

    • Jeffrey
      8:50 pm August 23, 2014 Permalink

      UK plays MSST and Vandy, two possible wins, and UL isn’t the same like the last two seasons.

    • Idiot
      8:55 pm August 23, 2014 Permalink

      You are an idiot. He obviously is talking about mississppi state when he says Mississippi which we tend to play competitively. Tennessee and Missouri in the final four games are winnable though we would still be 7 point dogs if towles is playing well, plus we have a bye before a rivalry game with Louisville which was competitive last year(at least for a half) when UL was better and uk was worse. In the five bowl years UK was competitive in 8-9 games EACH year. Even jokers 2nd year we were competitive in 6-7 games. This team lacks experience but is as big talented and fast as atleast 3 of the 5 of the bowl years and jokers 2nd season.

    • Bunch of Hooey
      9:40 pm August 23, 2014 Permalink

      Idiot, MIss St has won 5 in a row vs. UK, and they will be better this year with a really good QB. At Mizzou and at UT (also will be improved) I’d put at 10-14 pt. spread at least. Regardless, pulling Barker’s redshirt for ANY reason except the other 3 QB’s are hurt should not be considered but especially with the carrot on the stick being a bowl appearance contingent on winning 3 of the last 4 games down the stretch…Mizzou, UGA, UT, Louisville. Stupid. Go ahead, bet me right now that UK wins 3 of the last 4 games, straight up no spread.

    • UKfan
      10:53 pm August 23, 2014 Permalink

      We were horrible last year and Mississippi State only beat us by 6 points at their place We are better (as they are) and we play them at home. Yes, they have a 5 game winning streak, but most times that game is close. I say that game is winnable game. We beat Vandy and them that should give us at least a 5 game win total heading into the pizza palace. I actually see Louisville as a winnable game. I don’ see us winning more than 6 games, but I don’t see only getting 2-3 wins either.

    • Idiot
      12:18 am August 24, 2014 Permalink

      I will bet you that three of the last four games are wins or single possession losses. UT lost there entire OL and DL if you think they replaced multiyear starters with all stars your a vol fan. And mizzou will look more like mizzou of two years ago after losing a lot of weapons and production. Georgia is always a toss up game cause the times it seems like we don’t belong on the field with them is the time we make it a game in the 4th quarter. Louisville will be just as beat up as us but we have an extra week to prepare and they play Norte dame the week prior. And just like others said if we are at 5 wins might as well go for broke on the last four

  5. DrSayre
    8:55 pm August 23, 2014 Permalink

    I think Phillips has to be the backup if they want to redshirt Barker. When was the last time we only needed 1 quarterback for the entire season?

  6. Monte
    9:13 pm August 23, 2014 Permalink

    I think Stoops kicked Baker in the teeth. Stoops made him a priority Baker chose Ky, recruited a bunch of players then gets rewarded with a red shirt. he has shown leadership…give him the ball and live with the learning curve. winning begins with loyalty….this is a poor decision and Stoops will regret this move. what does it say about integrity…what does is say to other recruits we are trying to get….

    • Python
      9:19 pm August 23, 2014 Permalink


    • Jesus Effin' Facepalming Christ
      9:21 pm August 23, 2014 Permalink

      99.9% of SEC quarterbacks redshirt their first year, dumbass!

    • arlo
      8:02 am August 24, 2014 Permalink

      haven’t heard mention of shirting baker. he could be one of our better wideouts.

    • Rixter
      1:43 pm August 24, 2014 Permalink

      Are you suggesting if ‘Baker’ had chosen South Carolina, that Spurrier would be starting him this year?

      Thanks, I needed that chuckle.

  7. Monte
    9:15 pm August 23, 2014 Permalink

    sorry for t;he typo…..Barker deserves better than this

    • Python
      9:19 pm August 23, 2014 Permalink

      Fail, again.

  8. Jimmy
    9:31 pm August 23, 2014 Permalink

    It is very very rare for a true freshman to come in and do well at the QB position. Play Towles and if he gets hurt then play Phillips. Unless they are both hurt don’t burn the Barker redshirt. If the race was a 3 way race that was that close let Barker redshirt to get better and adjust to the college speed of the game. The benefit of redshirting far outweighs playing him.

  9. clancyhat
    9:39 pm August 23, 2014 Permalink

    TOTALLY STUPID. and completely hypothetical.

  10. RealUKFan
    10:27 pm August 23, 2014 Permalink

    If you are not making Barker the number one quarterback then no situation that will be encountered can justify pulling Barker’s redshirt. Either make him the number one quarterback now and live with it or redshirt him. you cannot have it both ways. Phillips and Smith can be the backups. This is a rebuilding season. Barker should not waste a year of eligibility or any part thereof.

  11. Mike13w
    10:34 pm August 23, 2014 Permalink


    No way will Stoops burn Barker’s redshirt in any of those scenarios. Pulling a potential STAR’s redshirt to make it to Jimbo’s Gas N’ Go bowl? That would be the most Kentucky Football move of all-time. Reese Phillips will be the back-up all year long. IF and ONLY IF Towles AND Phillips were to go down, AND IF we were one/two winnable games away from a bowl birth, AND IF the staff felt that Drew gave us a SIGNIFICANTLY better chance to make a Bowl than a highly experienced, albeit potentially noodle armed, Max Smith would the staff burn Drew’s RS.

    No disrespect to the young man who wrote this post, but let’s get some people who actually know football to write about football, please.

  12. jeff j
    10:38 pm August 23, 2014 Permalink

    lets dont go there ………unless it happens…………… GO CATS

  13. Doormat
    10:41 pm August 23, 2014 Permalink

    BTW, Louisville’s QB, yet to be named, will lead the Cardz to an undefeated season, the National Championship title, and win the Heisman.

  14. Joey
    10:43 pm August 23, 2014 Permalink

    Why even speculate what will happen? Towles is the starter and should be for the entire season. There is no way a true freshman can play in the SEC unless your name is Tebow.

    • Brian the Derpface
      11:02 pm August 23, 2014 Permalink

      Did you even read the post? Two SEC quarterbacks played the whole season without incident. Also, this is the offseason, all we can do is speculate. Jesus. I disagree with the conclusion, but the premise is solid.

    • Mike13w
      11:36 pm August 23, 2014 Permalink

      I agree wholeheartedly, Brian. Solid premise, ridiculous conclusion. Worthy of a post on KSR? Meh, probably not, but you need hits to make money, and you need new posts to get hits, so it is what it is. And this is a free fansite so whining about that would be dumb. How the dude thinks Barker will see PT in those scenarios just throws me for a loop.

    • Rixter
      1:50 pm August 24, 2014 Permalink

      Tebow didn’t even start as a freshman, he played behind Chris Leak. Although he did play every game, it was in a modified Wildcat type situation.

  15. UKfan
    10:44 pm August 23, 2014 Permalink

    Does it really matter? Even with a coach as “brilliant” (and corrupt) as yours, your team will be lucky to win 7 games because they actually play a schedule this year. Are they going to beat FSU?…umm no. Notre Dame…umm no. Clemson…umm no. Boston College…probably not. Miami…maybe not. UK…tougher than you think.

    If Towles plays and gets hurt or doesn’t play well, then Reece gets to play. If Reece plays and gets hurt or doesn’t play well, then Max gets to play. If Max plays and gets hurt or doesn’t play well, then Drew gets his redshirt pulled and he goes in. I simply don’t see Drew playing this year unless we get desperate. My gut tells me that Patrick will be fine and playing time will be split between Reece and him.

  16. UKfan
    10:56 pm August 23, 2014 Permalink

    Yeah, that #1 defense you have (sorry, but I can’t stop laughing at the BS) is going to show that they are just average this year. Don’t worry, you still get 7 wins this year (maybe).

    12:49 am August 24, 2014 Permalink

    Towles first. Phillips second. Right now the only decision is Barker or Smith at QB3? I would vote Max since he has put in more time and Drew should keep RS but I would like to see both take time to 100% recover (Max) and learn and grow (Drew).

    12:52 am August 24, 2014 Permalink

    Also don’t act like we have the Ohio and ULM games locked up. We will need to play solid games to win both.

  19. SevenT
    12:57 pm August 24, 2014 Permalink

    These KSR hack armchair QBs on here make me laugh.

    1. Towles is the real deal, he was an amazing High School QB out of Northern KY. He could have played anywhere but he is a Kentucky boy through and through.
    2. Towles took it upon himself to work on his mental toughness and throwing mechanics all last year while he redshirted
    3. Towles won the job and is Kentucky’s QB. He has earned his spot.

    Kentucky is a mystery right now because the entire program is going under a massive change. I think everyone who follows Kentucky knows the program has a lot of momentum right now.

  20. ShooterMcGavin
    1:07 pm August 24, 2014 Permalink

    This is a massacre of a post. I agree with ^, but not to go as far as labeling KSR as typical media. Go over to espn and read how they made more front page news of Michael Sam sacking Johnny Football. KSR is our niche market for kentucky sports, and not have to pay for a subscription. We should take what we get and practice acceptance.

    Writing about the quarterback situation is pertinent information that will help us determine how quickly we will be able to put in Drew Barker. I think he will be a nice surprise once he gets put into the game. So ultimately this is just a post to stir up some emotion in our team.

  21. SMH
    1:46 pm August 24, 2014 Permalink

    U of L’s QB yet to be named?? All accounts I hear say Gardner is a much better QB than Bridgewater. If they’d had a white coach last year, Bridgewater would have been getting mop-up minutes

    • Tom
      4:18 pm August 24, 2014 Permalink

      Yep, and since we got us a white guy now look at how much we improved. You are an idiot!
      Kentucky better be tickled to death both Strong and Bridgewater have moved on.

  22. We don't hold the ball like this, ever!
    3:59 pm August 24, 2014 Permalink

    I truly believe the Cats are much more improved than folks realize and Towles will be backed up by a very competent Phillips. I don’t think it’s 11-1 & Sugar Bowl but wouldn’t be surprised by a bowl birth. We’re building depth all over & have much better classes the last two years than Brooks ever got when we went bowling for multiple years.

  23. Tom
    4:29 pm August 24, 2014 Permalink

    Barker should be named the start TODAY. Why give Towles a chance? You all know Barker is the better QB. Right?
    Towles is going to be nit picked for every move he makes.
    String a few losses in a row and it isn’t going to matter who’s the quarterback. He’ll be slandered, ridiculed, nationality questioned, high school transcript reviewed, anything the BBN can think of to show THEY KNEW who should be starting.
    Florida might be a step or two above Dixie Heights but that will matter little to the know it alls on this site,

  24. UKBlue!
    6:03 pm August 24, 2014 Permalink

    I think I lost a IQ point or two by reading the comments on this article.