Kentucky is so short on quarterbacks this spring that new offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson was getting a sore arm.
On Wednesday, he assured that he's out of the quarterback race.
"I got beat out pretty early," he said laughing. "I'd be transferring right now."
And while he's out of the competition, Dawson and Coach Mark Stoops were not ready to declare a winner in the spring two-way quarterback clash between last year's starter Patrick Towles and redshirt freshman Drew Barker.
"That's the furthest thing from my mind right now, to be honest with you," Dawson said when asked about naming a starter in the spring. "I just care about them going out there every day, trying to develop a level of consistency."
The quarterbacks coach said spring is more about getting to a comfort level with all of the Cats' potential signal callers.
"Right now this spring is really for getting me and them on the same page and just repping, learning," Dawson continued. "It doesn't matter to the point to where I'm going to sit here and I'm stressing about making a decision, because we don't play Saturday."
Last week, Stoops said he had no timeline in place on naming a starter, nor did he think one was necessary. "Patrick played well and was our starter coming off the year and he knows he's got to improve to hold that position and again that's no different than any position," he said of Towles, who started all 12 games and threw for 2,718 yards and 14 touchdowns with nine interceptions last season.
Having competition at the position will make all of those involved better, Stoops said. "I know the old adage that if you have two you don't have any, but I don't believe that," he said Wednesday after practice. "Right now with Reese (Phillips) being out, we only have two quarterbacks on campus and both myself and Coach Shannon (Dawson), we believe that we can win with both of them."
Phillips, who played sparingly last season, has missed spring practice after rupturing his Achilles tendon in March. The sophomore had surgery and will be back in the fall.
Towles and Barker have had good days and bad days this spring, their coaches said.
"There's days when one or the other does separate himself, but not consistently, not every day," Stoops said. "Both guys are improving. So that's a good thing."
Both players are more than capable of running the offense, but the Kentucky coaches are searching for consistency above all else. They've both made big plays this spring, but that's not necessarily what catches Dawson's eye.
"The consistent players are the better ones," Dawson said. "That's just the way it is. Great plays typically don't win games a lot. It's routine plays. So it's the guy that's consistently making routine plays, getting the ball to the right guy consistently, routinely."
He added that he didn't want to see anything "superhuman" from Towles or Barker. In fact, he seems to want less of the heroics.
"Both of them are talented enough to make every throw," he said. "So the problems we get into sometimes are when we think we can do a little too much. Just put the ball in play and move on to the next one. So I mean, just make routine plays."
A couple of hypotheticals were lobbed Dawson's way, including whether he'd want to play a two-quarterback system. He's never done that previously, but didn't rule it out.
"That's not anywhere close to my mind right now," he said. "If we were playing Saturday, I'd give you an answer. We're not playing Saturday. We're scrimmaging Saturday. Both of them will play Saturday."
New deals for UK staff
As Stoops promised when he was given his multiyear contract extension and pay increase at the end of October, his assistant coaches as well as some key staff also received bumps in pay.
Many of those contract details were made public by the university Tuesday via its open records contract database. In general, the terms of their deals did not change, and all of the assistant coaches who had previously been on staff now have deals that run through June 30, 2017.
The university's legal office, which maintains the website with updated contracts for coaches and staff, may still have more to update.
Most of the new contracts were signed in February and the pay rate went into effect April 1.
■ Wide receivers coach Tommy Mainord got a $50,000 raise that puts his salary at $275,000.
■ Derrick Ansley, who previously coached the cornerbacks but now works with the entire secondary, will make $275,000 annually.
■ Offensive line coach John Schlarman will receive $250,000 per year, an increase of $25,000.
■ Running backs coach Chad Scott will receive $275,000 per year, a bump of $35,000.
■ Defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh will receive $250,000 a year, an increase of $50,000.
■ In January, outside linebackers coach Andy Buh signed a one-year deal that pays him $200,000 and runs through June 30, 2016.
Two key strength and conditioning coaches received pay raises as well. Head strength and conditioning coach Corey Edmond signed a new contract that runs through June 30, 2016, that pays him $204,000, which is a $51,000 increase from his most recent deal.
On April 1, assistant strength and conditioning coach Donald Horton signed a new one-year deal paying him $50,000, which is roughly a $10,000 boost from his previous contract.