Stoops says he's not ready to name Kentucky's starting QB

jsmith3@herald-leader.comApril 30, 2014 

It sounds like Kentucky's quarterback battle is going to go into fall camp.

On the annual post-spring practice Southeastern Conference teleconference, Mark Stoops sounded like a coach still waiting for a starter to emerge among Patrick Towles, Reese Phillips and Drew Barker.

"Not quite ready to name a starter," he said Wednesday. "We feel very good about where we're at, we feel like we're improving at that position."

Stoops said he liked some things that Towles, who ran out with the first-team unit on Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium, did in the spring game, but also was pleased with the play of Phillips and Barker.

When asked specifically about him, the UK coach seemed high on Phillips and what he had shown in the spring and said the redshirt freshman is "very much in the hunt."

"Reese is a guy that the coaches and our players have a lot of confidence in," Stoops said. "That's a great compliment. He's a guy that we feel is always very steady."

At Saturday's Blue-White Spring Game, playing with the Blue Team (starters) and the White Team (reserves), Towles completed 11 of 15 pass attempts for 126 yards and an interception at the line by defensive end Za'Darius Smith.

Phillips went 10-for-17 for 74 yards and two touchdowns and Barker, an early enrollee, completed seven of his 19 attempts for 74 yards and had a pretty 30-yard touchdown strike to Demarco Robinson.

Offensive coordinator Neal Brown said he didn't think Saturday's scrimmage was a great day for any of his quarterbacks and said he thought their nerves might have gotten the best of them early.

While the scrimmage carries significant weight, there were other things to consider, he said.

"We've been keeping track of everything through the spring, from every drill we've done, completions, how we've charted drives, productivity, all those things," he said. "So we'll sit down and visit with those guys later in the week."

Stoops was complimentary of the support around the quarterbacks in the spring game, including the running back quartet of Jojo Kemp, Braylon Heard, Josh Clemons and Mikel Horton.

"We have some guys with a little bit more pop that can make people miss in our run game and improving at the receiver position as well, which is obviously going to make the quarterbacks look a little bit better," he said.

Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241. Twitter: @jenheraldleader. Blog: ukfootball.bloginky.com.

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