There is no easy answer at the quarterback position for Kentucky.
And Coach Mark Stoops didn't offer any as his team tries to stop a four-game losing streak at Vanderbilt on Saturday.
"We'll see how the week goes," Stoops said on Monday when asked whether Drew Barker or Patrick Towles will start this weekend. "Whoever gives us the best chance to go into Vandy and win will take the first snaps.
"And if both guys are — if we feel confident in both guys, or if one's struggling, we'll go to the other."
Towles struggled in a 27-3 loss at Georgia on Saturday, throwing for 96 yards — his fewest in 21 starts — with just eight completions on 21 throws with two interceptions
"Just kind of being a little hesitant," Towles said when asked about his problems in Athens. "Not necessarily putting everything I had into the football. I think I made good decisions today. I just don't think I threw the football well."
But not all of the blame falls on Towles, his coach and coordinator were quick to point out.
"We need to play better around him," Stoops said. "Certainly offensively when you put on that film and look at the play of the other 10 guys, it was not up to par as well."
The UK offensive line had its "worst game," Stoops said, adding that he "thought we got handled up front."
Towles didn't get much help from his wide receivers, who again had multiple drops at Georgia.
"We've gotta have guys step up and make plays," Stoops continued. "We've gotta look at other guys and look at the rotation. Mentally our players need to step up and accept the challenge as well. They're plenty capable of doing it."
That doesn't mean Towles is off the hook as Kentucky prepares for Vanderbilt, which has one of the top defenses in the nation, giving up just 316.1 yards a game.
Allowing only 17.2 points a game, the Commodores are 12th nationally in scoring defense (fifth in the Southeastern Conference). They've conceded more than 30 points only twice this season.
The coaches have told Towles he's in for a quarterback battle this week with Barker.
"We've addressed it with Patrick and he understands that," Stoops said. "He accepts that. He's got to go out and perform and produce just like everybody else on our team."
Williams likely to be back
Kentucky probably will have leading rusher Boom Williams back on Saturday at Vanderbilt.
The sophomore has been cleared to practice this week after suffering an elbow injury against Tennessee.
"He should be good to go; we'll see how the week goes," Stoops said.
Williams, who has 85 runs for 563 yards and three touchdowns this season, will wear some sort of protective apparatus.
"He's going to have to play with some form of brace on his elbow," the coach said of Williams, who averages 80.4 yards a game and 6.6 yards per carry. "Hopefully he'll be able to handle that and protect the football and play like we need him to."
In two games without Williams, the Cats failed to crack 80 yards on the ground, rushing for 55 yards against Eastern Kentucky and 79 yards at Georgia last week with no touchdowns.
Last week, Stoops said Williams is one of the few home run-type players on UK's roster.
"Boom was certainly one of the few guys that we have that we feel are complete game-changers and can hit the big play," Stoops said before the loss to the Bulldogs.
UK will need all of the potential home runs it can hit at Vanderbilt, which is 15th in the nation in rushing defense (112.4 yards a game).
Against Vandy last season, Williams had just five carries for 27 yards and three catches for 39 yards.
After Ryan Timmons' struggles returning punts this season, including a lost fumble Saturday, it's likely Kentucky will try other players this week. Potential replacements include wide receivers Charles Walker and Garrett Johnson, Stoops said. The depth chart lists T.V. Williams as the second option, but the head coach didn't mention the sophomore.
■ Kicker Austin MacGinnis, who has been battling a groin strain, was limited again versus Georgia, kicking a field goal but not doing kickoff duties because of the injury. "Austin was close last week; he wasn't 100 percent on the kickoffs," Stoops said. "Shorter field goals and all that, I think he was good. He says he'll be ready this week, so let's hope he can."
■ Offensive lineman George Asafo-Adjei has been cleared to return to practice after missing the last two games with a leg injury. ... Safety Darius West is still a question mark to play.
■ Kentucky will play its ninth night game of the season against Charlotte on Nov. 21 at Commonwealth Stadium. The league office announced Monday that the game will be played at 7:30 p.m. and shown on the SEC Network alternate channel.