UK football notes: Knee injury sidelines Dorian Baker for rest of season

Kentucky Wildcats Dorian Baker, broke a tackle by Mississippi States Jamerson Love,5, as #1 Mississippi State defeated Kentucky 44-31 on Saturday October 25, 2014  in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff
Kentucky Wildcats Dorian Baker, broke a tackle by Mississippi States Jamerson Love,5, as #1 Mississippi State defeated Kentucky 44-31 on Saturday October 25, 2014 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff Herald-Leader

Freshman wide receiver Dorian Baker is out for the rest of the season after suffering a knee injury in practice during the bye week, Kentucky Coach Mark Stoops said on Monday.

"He got hurt last week, so he's done for the year," Stoops said. "He's going to need surgery."

Baker, who has started two games with 19 catches for 199 yards and one touchdown, suffered a non-contact injury.

"Unfortunate accident," the head coach said. "We were practicing against each other doing some good on good, but really it was no– contact. He just planted awkward and hurt his knee."

After the news came out, the freshman wide out tweeted: "Mad about this knee injury, but surgery gonna go good and I'll be back before y'all know it."

As Kentucky prepares for No. 24 Louisville this week, there are a few other question marks, including backup right tackle Kyle Meadows, who hurt his ankle at Tennessee. Stoops said the red-shirt freshman would be a "long shot to play."

It also sounds like quarterback Patrick Towles is still trying to come back from his own ankle injury against the Volunteers.

"We'll see how he is today," his head coach said. "Hopefully he'll be out there at full strength today. So we'll see."

Towles' first full season as a starter has had some ups and downs, but he's thrown for more than 2,500 yards and 14 touchdowns in 11 games so far. The sophomore quarterback also has rushed for 293 yards and six scores.

Stoops would like to see Towles finish strong.

"I'd just like to see him go back to really playing a quality game," he said of Towles, who has completed just 49.5 percent of his passes in the last three games, throwing for just 465 yards and two touchdowns with three interceptions.

"I'd like to see him really put it all on the line this last week and go out and just play and be the great leader that he's shown at times this year and really just lay it on the line and play a quality football game for us," Stoops said.

■ UK's secondary was banged up going into the bye week as well and it may have its biggest test of the season so far in Louisville wide receiver DeVante Parker (29 catches for 555 yards and two touchdowns in five games).

Stoops seemed confident that group would be OK.

"We're in good shape now," he said. "We'll be better. We'll see what this weekend did for them. They should be out there this week ready to go."

Making most of bye week

While some players were able to rest and heal up, others went back to the basics.

Trying to get better fundamentally was the big talking point of last week and carried over into Monday's news conference with Stoops.

"It seems like we started over," senior Alvin "Bud" Dupree said last week. "We started over (like) when they first got here. We're doing the fundamental things, blocks and fundamental things, pass coverage; we're doing a lot of one-on-ones now with the offense just to build that enthusiasm back up and make sure everything stays (up to) speed."

Offensive coordinator Neal Brown took the down time to go through every play, every personnel grouping and look for ways to improve.

What did he learn by going through it with a fine-tooth comb?

"We've been inconsistent on offense, but it's not consistently the same thing, does that make sense?" Brown said last week.

Sometimes it's been not protecting well up front and the receiver is open but Towles doesn't have time to get him the ball. Other times, protection is good and the wide outs can't get open. Or maybe all of the other things go well and Towles misses the throw.

"So it's not one thing that we're consistently doing poorly," Brown said. "It's just we're not functioning as a unit as well as we should."

The other side of the ball did its own share of self scouting during the short break.

"We go back and look at all the things we've done well, things we've done poorly," Stoops said. "Whether it be technique, somebody just getting beat, scheme, whatever it might be and try to zero in on things that they'll be looking at and things that they'll want to exploit."

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