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Over-Analyzing the QBs After One Practice

Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics

Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics

Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics

In my practice report, I briefly touched on the current state of the quarterback position; unfortunately it isn’t much new news, “they did some good things, and they did some bad things.”  What makes today different is that I got to see all of the good things.

Breaking the position down into six different skill sets, it’s easier to see where each quarterback stands.  I have left out some things that are important to the position, but cannot be calculated due to the circumstances: you can’t pinpoint who’s the most accurate without a pass chart, and without live contact it’s impossible to know how well they run in traffic or avoid pass rushers.

Hopefully this will help you understand just how tough the decision will be for Neal Brown and Mark Stoops.

Deep Ball:  Towles and Barker

There’s no doubt that Towles has the strongest arm on the team, throwing a ball 75-yards without much difficulty.  Today we saw that he can be accurate when dropping bombs, hitting Dorian Baker in stride for a 55-yard touchdown.  On every deep ball, his receiver has the chance to make a play.  Barker deserves to be mentioned because he loves chucking it deep.  He would have had multiple 30+ yard throws if his receivers would have won the fight against their defender.

Touch Passes:  Phillips

15-25 yard floating touch passes are a thing of beauty when executed properly, but they’re also the most difficult throw to make.  It requires excellent timing and accuracy, creating the narrowest window of opportunity.  Reese made these throws look easy on multiple occasions.  He found 5’9″ T.V. Williams on a fade for a 30+ yard gain, a route usually reserved for giants that can catch the ball above the defense.  The completion could not have happened without a perfect pass.  If Patrick Towles needs to improve on part of his game, it’s this one.  He let his arm get the best of him a couple of times, causing the ball to sail out of bounds.

Short, Timing Plays:  Towles

Yesterday at Media Day, Neal Brown stressed the need to improve on first down.  In order to play an uptempo pace, the Cats have to get a first down ASAP.  A good start often comes from a well-executed timing play.  The short routes are a staple of the Air Raid, giving receivers room to make plays in the open field. Pat Towles was tearing it up on timing routes, making routine plays very efficiently.  There was a sequence of back-to-back play-action passes where the ball left Towles hand immediately after the fake handoff, narrowly avoiding pass rushers while hitting his receiver before the defender could reach him.  Barker’s timing will develop as he gets more work in with his receivers, but Towles’ arm strength makes this type of play run much more smoothly.

Regression:  Phillips

When watching from the stands, you have no idea what kind of routes are being ran or where the ball is “supposed” to go.  But what you can do is watch the quarterbacks eyes.  No one displayed better patience in the pocket than Reese Phillips.  It can be easy to get carried away on a deep pass play – you’re in front of a crowd and want to make a big play – but Phillips never forced it, going through multiple checks before finding his safety valve at running back.

Form:  Barker 

Drew Barker’s form and release are smoother than blue suede shoes.  It’s an extremely compact motion.  He puts the ball behind his ear and doesn’t waste time to release the ball.  This isn’t a knock on the other guys, Drew just looks too good throwing a football.

Leadership: Towles

The most vocal player in the group, Pat has turnt up the intensity in practice.  You could hear Towles from 20 yards away delegating the offense.  When an entire football team huddles up, there’s always that one guy that has to make sure there isn’t any shenanigans before Coach grabs the mic.  In one practice, Pat showed that he is THAT guy,


As you can see, there’s a lot of positives and negatives with each player.  There isn’t much separating the three, but with two more open practices next week (Monday 9:30 am, Tuesday 3:30 pm) the opportunity is there for a starter to emerge.

Before you take this analysis to the bank, remember: it’s just one practice.

Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR

25 Comments for Over-Analyzing the QBs After One Practice

  1. You Can Call Me Cal
    7:22 pm August 9, 2014 Permalink

    I didn’t used to like Nick Rousch posts. But the dude is killing it. Getting me so amped for the season! …our little boy is all grown up and finding his own writing style!

  2. You Can Call Me Cal
    7:23 pm August 9, 2014 Permalink

    Oh, and since I haven’t posted anything here for a while, how about this throwback snitches,


    • clancyhat
      10:07 pm August 9, 2014 Permalink

      Boy, it’s been a while since I’ve seen that ( thankfully )

  3. BigBlue
    7:37 pm August 9, 2014 Permalink

    Glad to see Barker, Towles, and Phillips are all doing well but it they need to pick a starter sooner than later. They have to have an idea of who is best suited as the QB for this system by now. QB confusion going into the first week of the season would not be a good thing.

  4. Todd
    7:43 pm August 9, 2014 Permalink

    Progression vs regression……look it up! Other than that great post, just thought that was funny!

    • Luther
      8:20 pm August 9, 2014 Permalink

      Agree. Look it up, Roush…

    • Nick Roush
      8:38 pm August 9, 2014 Permalink

      What about digression?

    • CatsBalls
      4:23 am August 10, 2014 Permalink

      “There was a sequence of back-to-back play-action passes where the ball left Towles hand immediately after the fake handoff, narrowly avoiding pass rushers while hitting his receiver before the defender could reach him”

      Otherwise known as completions.

  5. linebeard
    7:57 pm August 9, 2014 Permalink

    Nick, if you had to pick one right now, who would it be?

    • jch67
      8:12 pm August 9, 2014 Permalink

      Is there even a question???

      Whose name came up most often in the analysis? And, we know it won’t be Phillips no matter what the coaches say.

      This is actually working out perfectly. Towles is the starter, Barker will redshirt. Phillips is the very capable back-up.

      Next year will be the real QB competition between Towles and Barker; no matter which one wins it looks like we will be in VERY good shape.

      Go Cats!

    • Nick Roush
      8:40 pm August 9, 2014 Permalink

      I want to double-down on Towles but every time I see/hear something from practice about Reese it makes me second guess myself. This competition really is tough, but I think they’ll give it to the Kentucky kid.

    • jch67
      8:46 pm August 9, 2014 Permalink

      @ Nick Roush

      Hopefully Towles being “Kentucky” kid has nothing to do with the decision…

      I think it’s Towles job to lose. It’s great Phillips is impressive in practice but I think he’s destined to be a back up. Having a capable back-up is just a luxury..

    • jch67
      8:49 pm August 9, 2014 Permalink

      Sorry, sounds like I’m minimizing the luxury of a capable back-up and that’s not at all what I meant. I meant it is truly a luxury and, considering the recent history of UK QBs, should make everyone sleep a bit easier knowing the level of play won’t “fall off the cliff” so to speak if our starter tweaks a hammy…

  6. Ronnie
    7:59 pm August 9, 2014 Permalink

    Dude are you fa serious?!! I’ve always thought hands down Nick is the best FB writer on the site!!

  7. jch67
    8:09 pm August 9, 2014 Permalink

    “turnt” now that’s true Kentucky!!

    Go Cats!!

  8. Really?
    8:10 pm August 9, 2014 Permalink

    “the ball left Towles hands immediately after the handoff”….. Amazing insight there!

    • jch67
      8:13 pm August 9, 2014 Permalink

      Shhh… you’re drawing attention to one of the new “trick” plays…

    • Embitterment
      8:31 pm August 9, 2014 Permalink

      Executing a good fake, getting set, running through a progression and releasing a good throw with accuracy and efficiency is pretty uncommon for young quarterbacks. So this actually was a useful observation.

      But by all means keep up the sarcasm. It reflects on your attitude and your understanding of football…. Amazing insight there!

    • jch67
      8:42 pm August 9, 2014 Permalink


      aren’t you a breath of fresh air??

      Have a few fingers and chill….

    • Did Roush Edit?
      9:30 pm August 9, 2014 Permalink

      As of now it reads, “…after the fake handoff.”. In that case it actually is a great insight. The ability to make the play action fake with pass rushers already bearing down and immediately get off an accurate pass is the type of skill that can turn heads at the next level and infuriate defensive coordinators at the current level. Not sure I get the sarcasm either. Again, that’s assuming the article wasn’t later edited to make the correction.

    • Really
      9:36 pm August 9, 2014 Permalink

      Bingo! Nice save mr editor…

    • CatsBalls
      4:29 am August 10, 2014 Permalink

      Embitterment: You know nothing about football.

  9. Jimmy wa11
    12:56 am August 10, 2014 Permalink

    I would of put money on Barker being the most vocal and biggest leader.

  10. Uk4life
    8:13 am August 10, 2014 Permalink

    “Should have ran” is so hickish! You guys have lousy grammar on this site.

  11. Simoa
    12:28 pm August 10, 2014 Permalink

    Nothing about the interceptions. Pick 6 interceptions? Nothing about passes that were poorly thrown.
    There’s a ton going wrong with the QBs. Why isn’t the bad reported?