Before the coaches made it official, before Patrick Towles heard it with his own ears, the Kentucky junior unknowingly laid out the reasons why he would be the Cats' starting quarterback this season.
When asked Friday how he's different now than he was a season ago when he led the UK offense, Towles said it was all about "comfort level."
"Having a year under my belt, playing, I've been through it all," he said. "I've seen everything. I've been three overtimes in The Swamp and I've been toe to toe with the No. 1 team in the country. I've been there. Nothing's going to surprise me."
Because of all that, it wasn't much of a surprise when the 6-foot-5 junior who accounted for more than 3,000 yards of total offense and 20 touchdowns last season officially was named the starter Monday by Coach Mark Stoops.
Stoops who called Towles' play in Saturday's scrimmage "exceptional," said the quarterback is making good decisions.
"He's making very quick decisions where to go with the ball, and then he's delivering it on time. He's throwing it. He's got a lot of arm talent, so he's really doing some good things."
Near the end of last season, Stoops had questions about Towles' accuracy, not just his ability to connect with receivers, but to lead them into spaces where they could make a big play.
"There are throws and there are plays that he has to do better," Stoops said after the season-ending loss to Louisville, when the Cats quarterback completed a season-low 48.3 percent of his passes and threw two interceptions. "The quick throws and the plays that we're counting on that are an extension of our run, that has to be on the money. That can't be at the shoelaces."
For the second straight offseason, Towles worked with a quarterback coach to improve his accuracy and footwork. He watched a lot of video in the offseason trying to find ways to do things more effectively.
The former Highlands star said he's not going to quit working even though he's secured the starting spot for the opener against Louisiana-Lafayette at Commonwealth Stadium on Sept. 5.
"You can always be more accurate," said Towles, who connected on 57.3 percent of his passes last season for 2,718 yards and 14 touchdowns (with 10 interceptions). "I'm not completing 100 percent of my balls yet so I got work to do there."
He also talked about continuing to work on his relationships with teammates and trying to become a true team leader.
"I might be named the starter, but it's still not over," said Towles, who also ran for 303 net yards and six additional scores last season. "I'm not satisfied with where I'm at. I'm not gonna get complacent at all. We still got work to do, and we're still gonna get better. It starts with me."
Stoops sees plenty of scenarios in which No. 2 quarterback Drew Barker will play this season, but made it clear that Towles was "the guy and he's going to play. He's got the reins."
The UK head coach has seen plenty of growth both on and off the field from Barker, a redshirt freshman.
"He's playing the best football since he's been here by far," Stoops said of Barker. "He's improving every day and that's the attitude you want to see. He's one play away from going in there and leading our team with an injury or something like that. You never know what's going to happen. I'm pleased with him and his progress."
Injuries, other news
■ Running back Stanley "Boom" Williams, who suffered a knee sprain in practice a week ago, is running and conditioning, and Stoops said "he's very close" to returning.
■ Linebacker Ryan Flannigan is still out with an injured right shoulder, which is "taking a little bit of time," Stoops said. Promising true freshman linebacker Jordan Jones will miss a couple of weeks with an illness.
■ Wideout Jeff Badet injured his toe in Saturday's scrimmage, but should be fine.
■ True freshman cornerback Chris Westry is running with the No. 1 defense, Stoops said. But it's a fluid situation. He had an interception and a couple of pass breakups recently.
"He's got a long ways to go," the coach said. "But he's got some ability and he's got that size. He's 6-4, so he does more by accident sometimes."
Running at the other cornerback spot is Cody Quinn, a longtime starter who has played in 32 games and started in 24. He has made 87 total tackles, including 35 last season.
■ Outside linebackers coach Andy Buh said Denzil Ware and Jabari Johnson lead at those positions. Behind them are Kengera Daniel and Josh Allen.
"Those are the four we're really focused on," Buh said. "Then we're bringing (junior-college transfer) Alvonte Bell along."
Remember that Jason Hatcher, one of the top returning players at those spots, will be suspended the first two games of the season for a violation of university rules.