It looks like Drew Barker might be out as UK starting QB because of a back injury for quite some time and that is a shame for any player to get injured. But from strictly a quality of play standpoint, does Barker’s injury come at the right time for UK, not only this season but the future? Let’s not forget that the initial depth chart released this week still had Barker listed as the #1 QB coming into this weekend with South Carolina. That tells me that IF he had been healthy, Barker would still be considered the starter, despite the success of Stephen Johnson last weekend.
So assuming Barker gets healthy at some point, I think it’s a fair question to ask: Has Barker done anything to DESERVE the starting job when he returns? Barker was named the starter for the final 2 games of 2015 and the first 3 games of this season, and his stats in those games, broken down by half, are:
1st Half Charlotte: 16-26, 132 yards
2nd Half Charlotte: 0-3, 0 yards
1st Half Louisville: 5-8, 129 yards
2nd Half Louisville: 1-14, -1 yards
1st Half Southern Miss: 11-19, 287 yards, 4 TD
2nd Half Southern Miss: 4-5, 36 yards, 1 INT
1st Half Florida: 2-8, 10 yards, 2 INT
2nd Half Florida: 0-2, 1 INT
1st Half New Mexico St: 1-2, 1 yard, 1 INT
COMBINED: 40-87, 594 yards, 4 TD, 5 INT
COMBINED (w/o S.Miss 1st Half): 29-70, 207 yards, 0 TD, 5 INT
In 8 full halves and the 1st series of the MNSU game, Barker threw 4 touchdowns. And all of those came in 1 half against Southern Miss. If you take just that 1 half out, Barker is averaging less than 30 YARDS PASSING in the other 7+ halves of football. 30 YARDS! Most QB’s will have a 30-yard completion in each half this season and Barker couldn’t average that with all of his passes in a half. I don’t point this out to run down the kid but more to shine a critical light on the coaching staff who still listed him as the #1 QB this week initially, despite his injury and his backup outplaying him last week.
There is no doubt that Stephen Johnson is going to have struggles, especially passing the ball. And UK is very likely to focus much more on the ground attack than passing game for the rest of the season, but even with that, Johnson should in no way be considered a step back in the passing game for the Cats. Because for the past 4+ games, the passing attack couldn’t have been much worse for UK.