8 long days separate us all from the kickoff of the 2014 Kentucky football season and it’ll be nice to witness a team that Mark Stoops described as “improved”. This season marks a new dawn for quarterbacks around the conference as 6 teams will be debuting new men under center while several others will be replacing legends with their heirs and a few guys are holding tight to their starting role. One of those new guys debuting will be Patrick Towles who was announced as the new starter earlier this week. Today, ESPN handed out grades to all the expected starters and this is what they had to say about Towles:
2013 in review: Towles redshirted last season as a sophomore and used the time since then to smooth out the rough edges offensive coordinator Neal Brown and coach Mark Stoops identified in his game after he lost a preseason quarterback competition. He played in five games as a freshman in 2012 and completed 19 of 40 passes for 233 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
What to watch: Kentucky hasn’t had a quarterback go a full season as the starter since Andre Woodson in 2007. Not a great sign for Mr. Towles. So if the offensive line fails to keep the current starter upright, the ongoing competition for the backup job will be worth watching. Not that competition is particularly new for Kentucky’s quarterbacks. This was the third quarterback competition in which Towles had participated, and he was finally the victor.
Projected 2014 grade: C-
C-? This is a mark that Towles will have the chance to blow out of the water this upcoming year. To most of the people outside of the commonwealth Patrick is an unknown that can combine with UK’s young stable of athletes to really surprise some people. I think he can finish ahead of a lot of these returning back-ups like Hutson Mason and Jeff Driskell. Here’s how they graded the rest of the SEC’s Qbs:
South Carolina: B
Mississippi State: B+
Ole Miss: B+
Texas A&M: B-
The west is currently loaded with a bunch of top-tier Qbs and luckily we don’t have to play very many of them. It’s just too bad we couldn’t be traveling to Arkansas instead of LSU.
[ESPN: Grading each SEC QB situation]