By Cody Porter | @KernelPorter
What do you get when you have three sophomore quarterbacks? A problem.
And that could be exactly the case for UK’s already problematic football program next season.
The untimely injury to current sophomore Maxwell Smith against South Carolina required surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left ankle last week. Due to the injury, the Cats were left with their unwanted option of removing the redshirt from freshman Patrick Towles.
Towles’ name had previously been in the headlines with comments from his father to the Courier-Journal that made his allegiance to the Cats seem to be wavering.
His playing time was finally received Saturday when he took to the field to lead the Cats on a scoring drive that saw the freshman complete all five of his attempted passes for 71 yards and UK’s longest passing score of the season.
As seems to be UK’s fortune, Towles was injured with a high-ankle sprain on the ensuing drive, resulting in freshman Jalen Whitlow returning to assume the duties he has had since the end of UK’s game against Florida.
Thus, the future depth chart transforms into a question mark.
Riding a four-game skid, the plaguing injuries resulting in the Cats’ youth movement on the gridiron could play into who is coaching the team next season.
For whoever that is, they will have to determine who is the best quarterback to lead the Cats out of mediocrity.
Whitlow, like Randall Cobb, probably doesn’t have a career after college as a quarterback. He, more so than anyone else, is an assured move to another position, despite being head coach Joker Phillips’ best option under center at the moment.
That leads to the debate of Smith or Towles.
If unable to return this season, Smith is able to use a medical redshirt to continue his sophomore status.
Although questions surrounded him entering the season, the California native was among the nations passing leaders following their upset at the hands of Western Kentucky.
Prior to his early departure from the South Carolina game, Smith had completed 102 of his 149 attempted passes for 966 yards.
Those were numbers unparalleled at UK since Mike Hartline was with the team.
However, Smith didn’t get the chance to show how he would stack up against the SECs elite. That opportunity could have been a setback that left Smith as just another hopeful in UK’s quarterback lineage.
Towles, on the other hand, is the born and raised Kentucky player that many fans saw torch high school opponents with his arms and legs. It’s not unheard of to hear fans acknowledge him as being the best in-state quarterback since Tim Couch.
UK is where Towles wanted to be, and his entry Saturday was what fans long awaited.
Having his “live up to the hype” type of performance on that single drive will only make the whispers behind whoever is coaching the Cats next season resonate louder and louder.
Being a Phillips guy, Smith may not even be around to see what yet another quarterback competition will reveal.
Each give the offense an arm, but the thought of an impending Tim Couch replica is one that no coach may be able to pass on.
As ludicrous as it may be to oblige to the notion of a quarterback battle halfway through the 2012 season, the Cats are heading toward an impasse. But for now, the future of the current coaching staff is in the hands UK’s likely next talented wide receiver.