Conspiracy theorists might have enjoyed Kentucky's news conference after the win over Vanderbilt on Saturday.
There were all sorts of theories flying for why UK quarterback Patrick Towles showed signs of struggle in the victory, fumbling the ball twice and having one picked off for the Commodores' only points of the day in the 17-7 Cats win.
There was the wet hands theory: "We just got to do a better job of keeping his hands dry," Coach Mark Stoops said. "I could tell he was shaking his hands coming off the field. They were very wet."
There was the grip too tight theory: "Sometimes when I try to put the ball through windows, I grip the ball too tight and it just slips out of my hands," Towles himself said, noting that it had happened to him previously, but not in four or five months.
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There was wide receiver Javess Blue's theory that Towles wasn't himself after he had a pass picked off by Vandy's Darrius Sims and returned for a 13-yard score.
But Towles and his offensive coordinator debunked that theory after the win.
"It was just a bad read," the sophomore quarterback explained. "I should have checked down to my back. I let it rip and they picked it off."
More than that it was a nice defensive adjustment, Neal Brown assessed.
Towles "should've gone to his running back, but that's going to happen," Brown said. "When you throw the ball as much as we want to you're going to have interceptions."
Conspiracy implies there must be some sort of plot or scheme, though, when really the Kentucky coaches said it was mostly the youth of the UK offense and a more deliberate pace that contributed to the subpar second half.
"Bottom line is he didn't play as well as he has, and a lot of that is we didn't play as well around him," Brown said. "I didn't think we protected good enough. We didn't win versus man coverage good enough. He didn't throw it good enough. I didn't call good enough plays. Everybody on our offensive side takes equal blame."
Every quarterback has an off day and Towles is no exception, Stoops said.
But the sophomore, who has only started four games in college, wasn't the only one to blame.
"It's protection, it's route running, it's play calling, it's a lot of things," Stoops said. "We can never put all that on the quarterback."
There was plenty to like in Towles' play early, including a textbook 13-play, 99-yard opening drive where the quarterback connected with seven different receivers and even ran the ball 21 yards to keep the drive alive.
There will be plenty for Towles to learn from game video this week as the Cats (3-1, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) prepare for South Carolina (3-2, 1-2 SEC) to come to Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday night.
Off the top of his head, Stoops pointed to Towles getting rid of the ball quicker like he has in previous games. In Kentucky's first three games, Towles was sacked six times, but he was brought down four times in the Vandy game.
"He was sitting back there a little too long, looking a little too indecisive today, and he was off a little bit for him, he didn't play as well as he did in the first three games," Stoops noted. "That's where other aspects of your team has to step up and help out.
"Patrick will play good next week, and he will get those things fixed. ... Patrick will bounce back."
His position coach agreed.
"Bottom line is the kid's come out and played really well for three games," Brown said of Towles, who came into the Vanderbilt game 11th in the nation and third in the league in total offense, averaging 342.3 yards a game.
"He struggled today. He played well early; he got us a lead and then he struggled. I think the first three games are more of a picture of who he is then the way he played in the second half today."
Even on a day he struggled, Towles completed 77 percent of his passes and threw for 201 yards. In seven of Kentucky's games last season, the Cats' air attack didn't manage to crack the 200-yard mark.
He could have plenty of opportunities against a South Carolina pass defense that is 106th in the nation and has given up eight passing touchdowns and allows an average of 275.6 yards a game.
The Gamecocks' pass defense has allowed 58 passes of 10 or more yards and 19 pass plays of 20 yards or more, both worst in the league.
For his part, Towles said he'll go back to work this week. "I'll get better; we'll all keep improving."