The University of Kentucky football team has had the worst luck with quarterbacks this season.
In the Sept. 6 match-up against fellow Southeastern conference member Mississippi State University, freshman quarterback Patrick Towles sprained his ankle just before halftime. Before he left the game, Towles was 5 of 6 for 71 yards. Not too shabby for a player with only about a game and a half under his belt.
Freshman Jalen Whitlow was able to step in at quarterback for the remaining two quarters, but did not have as great of a completion percentage, with 10 of 21 completions for 73 yards.
Individually, these two young guys held their own. But neither Towles nor Whitlow would have to such critical roles this season if the original starting quarterback, sophomore Maxwell Smith, were able to play.
Smith is out indefinitely for the season due to a torn ankle ligament, incurred during his short appearance in the Sept. 29 game against South Carolina.
Mississippi State harped on the fact that Kentucky has had to reallocate the quarterback duties to two back-ups, with junior quarterback Tyler Russell scoring the first touchdown of the game by passing to fullback Adrian Marcus. This was Marcus' first career score. This set the tone for the rest of the game, as the Bulldogs went on to win the game, with a score of 27-14.
Bulldogs head football coach Dan Mullen even said that his team's style of play was catered to the Kentucky team having two quarterbacks at the helm.
"We wanted that kind of fast start, playing on the road against a team with freshman quarterbacks," Mullen said.
On the Wildcats' side, head football coach Joker Phillips was aware of the Mississippi State tactics, but placed his focus on those same freshman quarterbacks.
"I thought both of them (Towles and Whitlow) competed hard," Phillips said.
Evidently, this youthful talent that Phillips praises again and again prevalent in his team roster only takes it so far. Considering that Mississippi State had almost twice the number of passing yards (269 versus 144) and almost double the total number of offense yards (427 versus 228) than Kentucky, the seasoned Bulldogs quarterback was able to show how his veteran status worked in his favor. Ultimately, Russell had 23 completions of the 39 attempts for 269 yards, which, again, is almost double the total yardage covered by both Kentucky quarterbacks combined.
Kentucky's luck doesn't seem to be improving in the quarterback area, and with the Wildcats now halfway through their season, Coach Phillips had better be figuring something out.
Shannon Frazer is a University of Kentucky graduate and football fan.
UK Athletics, "Cats Fall to No. 20 Mississippi State," ukathletics.com
UK Athletics, "UK Continues Tough Stretch vs. No. 19/20 Mississippi State," ukathletics.com
Mississippi State Athletics, "#19 Bulldogs Remain Undefeated With 27-14 Win Over Wildcats," hailstate.com
UK Athletics, "Scoring Summary," ukathletics.com
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