Mark Story: Job one for Patrick Towles in 2014

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistAugust 25, 2014 

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Kentucky's newly named starting quarterback, Patrick Towles, threw a pass during Monday's practice.

PHOTO BY CHARLES BERTRAM | STAFF — Herald-Leader Buy Photo

  • Kentucky at Louisville

    When: Noon Saturday

    TV: ESPN2

    Records: Louisville 8-3 (5-3 ACC); Kentucky 5-6 (2-6 SEC)

    Series: Kentucky leads 14-12

    Line: Louisville by 12½

Quick hitters from the VMA after parties:

21. Job one for Patrick Towles. Simply put, the first challenge for Kentucky's new quarterback is to make it through every game of the 2014 season as the Wildcats starter.

20. Andre Woodson. In 2007, Woodson took the first snap in every one of Kentucky's 13 games (as he had done the season before). That is the most recent time UK made it through a season with the same starting QB.

19. Mike Hartline. The 2010 Kentucky QB started all 12 regular-season games, only to be suspended for an off-the-field incident and miss the BBVA Compass Bowl.

18. QB by committee. Over the last three seasons, Kentucky has not had a quarterback make more than eight starts in any year. That is certainly part of the reason UK is 9-27 in that time.

17. Mark Stoops on new starting QB Towles. "I have a lot of confidence in him. I appreciate the way he's gone about his business. ... He has this opportunity. He needs to make the most of it."

16. UK first-time starters. Starting with Tim Couch until the present, there have been 11 Kentucky quarterbacks start at least one game.

15. First-time winners. Six of the 11 won their initial career start — Shane Boyd (2001 Ball State), Mike Hartline (2008 at Louisville), Randall Cobb (2008 at Mississippi State), Morgan Newton (2009 at Auburn), Maxwell Smith (2011 Mississippi) and Matt Roark (2011 Tennessee).

14. First-time losers. Five of the 11 lost their initial career start — Tim Couch (1996 at Florida), Dusty Bonner (1999 Louisville), Jared Lorenzen (2000 at Louisville), Andre Woodson (2004 at Auburn) and Jalen Whitlow (2012 Mississippi State).

13. Trivia quiz. Of the 11 quarterbacks listed above, two left UK with winning records in games in which they started at QB. Can you name them? (Answer at number one).

12. Joey Herrick: Surprise, surprise, the junior college transfer wide receiver, who came to Kentucky last season as a walk-on and caught three passes, was listed first on the UK depth chart Monday at one of four wide receiver spots.

11. 40,600. According to the Herald-Leader's Jennifer Smith, that is the number of football season tickets sold by the University of Kentucky for 2014 as of Monday morning.

10. Moral. The days when Kentucky football fans automatically filled Commonwealth Stadium regardless of the quality of UK's play seem to have gone the way of the manual typewriter.

9. 46,149. That is the number of season tickets Louisville has reported selling for 2014 — which was all the season tickets U of L had to sell.

8. Moral II. When your program is 23-3 over the prior two seasons and buoyed by the excitement of entering a new conference — as Louisville is — it puts some wind behind demand for season tickets.

7. Tobijah Hughley. Easy to feel good for the ex-Lafayette High School lineman who walked on at Louisville, has earned a scholarship and is expected to start at center when U of L opens vs. Miami (Fla.).

6. DeVante Parker. Bobby Petrino announced Monday that the Louisville star wide receiver (55 catches, 12 TDs last year) is projected to miss six to eight weeks after suffering a broken fifth metatarsal in his left foot during a practice Friday night.

5. Best-case scenario. If Parker made it back in six weeks, he could play his first game of the season Oct. 3 at Syracuse.

4. Worst-case scenario. If Parker is out for eight weeks, his debut would be Oct. 18 against North Carolina State.

3. My guess. I would think that the ex-Ballard standout will move heaven and earth in his rehabilitation to make it back by Louisville's Oct. 11 visit to Clemson.

2. Ultimate silver lining for U of L. Even if Parker were to not return until the final four games of the year, it would mean he would be available in three of the most significant games of the Cardinals season — defending national champion Florida State (Oct. 30), at Notre Dame (Nov. 22) and archrival Kentucky (Nov. 29).

1. Trivia answer: The two UK quarterbacks since 1997 who left UK with winning records in games they started at QB are Mike Hartline (14-12) and (let's hear it, Rocky Toppers) Matt Roark (1-0).

The others (in descending order of winning percentage): Andre Woodson (19-19), Dusty Bonner (6-6), Tim Couch (12-13), Morgan Newton (8-10), Jared Lorenzen (14-27), Maxwell Smith (3-8), Randall Cobb (1-3), Shane Boyd (3-12) and Jalen Whitlow (2-13).

Mark Story: (859) 231-3230. Email: mstory@herald-leader.com. Twitter: @markcstory. Blog: markstory.bloginky.com

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