COLUMBIA, Mo. — Patrick Towles' first drive as Kentucky quarterback went better than expected.
His second few drives? Not so much.
Against Mississippi State in early October, the Mr. Football from Highlands connected on all five of his passes on his first collegiate drive, including a touchdown to La'Rod King.
A high ankle sprain has sidelined him since then.
He showed some rust in the loss at Missouri Saturday, completing just one of his four pass attempts for two yards. He also was sacked and fumbled the ball.
"It was just hard for me to go out there and get a rhythm," Towles said. "There's really no excuses for it. There were throws that I should've made that I didn't make. ... They started doing some things that were really getting to me and it was hard for me to see. So I couldn't get in that rhythm."
Both Coach Joker Phillips and offensive coordinator Randy Sanders said he didn't perform as well in the game as he had in practice this week.
"He didn't have as good of command as he's had," Phillips said. "There was one day (in practice) that I thought he had real good command of the ball. Today, he just didn't have that."
Sanders reminded the media that Towles, who was slated for a redshirt before the rash of quarterback injuries this season, had only practiced six times with the UK offense going into this game.
"He missed a couple of things I'd expect him to make," Sanders said. "Things that are pretty easy to execute. Then he gave me a couple answers from the sideline that scared me. We'll keep working with him. He'll get better, he'll improve and there is a definite difference in playing quarterback at this level and playing it in high school."
"I asked him 'What did you see?' And when he gives you something way off the mark, that's a little bit scary," Sanders said.
Towles said his sprained right ankle held up well.
"I wouldn't say it's 100 percent, but it's definitely good enough to play on," he said.
When Towles was asked if he regretted allowing coaches to pull his redshirt this season, he firmly said no.
"Not at all. Not at all," he said. "I came here to play. I talked with the coaches; they gave me the option of what I wanted to do. I want to play — and I want to play a lot better than I did today."
'Threw it right to me'
As the new guy and the backup freshman cornerback, J.D. Harmon was expecting Missouri to test him, but the Tigers probably weren't expecting the walk-on to ace the test with two picks on back-to-back plays.
Harmon said he knew the ball would come his way.
"I figured they'd do that, but I kept my technique and played the ball," Harmon said. "It kind of felt like he threw it right to me and it kind of surprised me."
The former wide receiver and defensive back from Paducah Tilghman said on the second one, he went back to his old wide receiver ways and dived for the ball.
"J.D. Harmon's going to be a pretty good football player," defensive coordinator Rick Minter said of Harmon, who finished with a career-best seven tackles. "Like a lot of these youngsters, once he's given the opportunity, he steps up and plays pretty darn good."
They were the first picks of Harmon's career and just the third and fourth of the season for UK, which hasn't had a player get two interceptions in a game since Winston Guy did it in the season opener against Western Kentucky last year.
Cornerback Cody Quinn tweaked his hamstring in practice late this week and re-aggravated it on the first series. ... Linebacker Jabari Johnson re-aggravated an old hamstring injury as well. ... Linebacker Pancho Thomas will have his wrist X-rayed after injuring it.
Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241. Twitter: @jenheraldleader. Blog: ukfootball.bloginky.com