As Kentucky exited summer training camp, head coach Joker Phillips raved about the health of his football team.
“I don’t think we’ve been this healthy going into a season in all of my time [at Kentucky]. Knock on wood.”
Phillips must not have knocked hard enough because Kentucky has been decimated by injuries in the last couple of games, specifically at the quarterback position. The latest causality was true freshman quarterback, Patrick Towles. In only his second career series, Towles suffered an ankle injury and would not return to the game. The severity of the injury is not yet known, but with Phillips mentioning a medical redshirt for him at the post-game press conference, things look bleak for the young quarterback.
Towles seeing action in Saturday’s 27-14 loss to Mississippi State means Kentucky has now played four quarterbacks at the position this season. Original starter Maxwell Smith was the first to go down. Smith suffered a shoulder injury in the third game of the season, followed by an ankle injury in last week’s game that would call for season-ending surgery. When he was healthy, Smith was one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the SEC, and even the nation this year.
“Our injury situation continues to mount,” Phillips said. “It’s a little frustrating… because we thought we were going to be really, really good on offense.”
With Smith down, Morgan Newton shoulder not fully healed, and Towles’ health uncertain, the offense falls squarely on the shoulders of another true freshman, Jalen Whitlow. Whitlow, who started today’s game and was called back in after Towles’ injury, readily admitted his struggles against the Bulldogs on Saturday.
“I couldn’t really make the throws,” Whitlow remarked. “I couldn’t throw the ball in the ocean today. It’s tough.”
Whitlow finished the game 10 of 21 for 74 yards passing, along with 8 rushes for 26 yards and a touchdown. Even though it’s not an ideal stat line for your starting quarterback, Whitlow is pretty much the only guy left for the Wildcats. If Whitlow happens to go down, Phillips will probably have to get creative with who is under center.
Quarterback was arguably the deepest, most talented position at the beginning of the season for the Cats. Now, for the next six games, Kentucky has to hope they can keep their only remaining quarterback healthy.