ATHENS, Ga. — For the first time this season, Kentucky's coaches strongly hinted that it might be time for a change at the quarterback position.
"You do got to look at some options," Coach Mark Stoops said when asked if the Cats are pondering a switch at quarterback after a 27-3 drubbing at Georgia on Saturday. "Yeah, you do. You have to. In fairness to the team, I think you have to look at everybody."
For the first time in 21 starts, Kentucky junior Patrick Towles passed for less than 100 yards, finishing the game with 96 before UK brought in Drew Barker midway through the fourth quarter.
Towles' 96 yards were a career low as a starter, and his eight completions (on 21 throws) were tied for his lowest.
His 38.1 percent completion rate was the second worst in his career behind the Florida game this season when the junior hit on just 33 percent of his throws.
"I can't say I blame them," Towles said of a possible switch to Barker. "I want to win football games, and if I'm not getting it done we need to play somebody else."
In the last two games, Towles has completed just 51.1 percent of his passes. He's had six interceptions and just two touchdowns in his past four games.
On what specifically went wrong on Saturday, Towles said: "Just kind of being a little hesitant. 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.
"There's a lot to that, and I've got to go back to work and figure it out and become a better football player."
And the coaches have to work to figure out how to make Kentucky's offense, better, too.
That may necessitate a position switch.
"We're gonna watch it close and then we'll meet and we'll make decisions, but I mean, he's not the only one out there," offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said. "I will say that. Typically, it's one guy here, one guy there. But that guy does make it work. Everybody does understand that. We'll look at it. We'll make decisions."
And that decision might be to play Barker, who has played in just two games this season in mop up duty. At Georgia, the redshirt freshman completed one of his two pass attempts for five yards.
"You've seen us change the depth chart at a lot of positions all the way through the season on who is playing well, and I think it's fair to say that we have to look at the quarterback position," Stoops said.
Wildcat package returns
For the first time in his coaching career, Dawson utilized the Wildcat package on Saturday, twice putting Jojo Kemp in for a direct snap.
"We wanted to get Jojo involved," Dawson said of Kemp, who had 12 carries for 48 yards in the loss. "We thought that was a good way to do it, and we had a plan and we stuck with it."
The first one got the Cats a first down and the second failed to yield a yard on a key fourth-and-2 at midfield early in the second half.
"Yeah, last couple of weeks, we'd been working on a few things," Stoops said. "Tried to get a few plays out of it."
Kemp, who had some success in that package last season, was happy to see it back in the rotation.
"It felt good," he said. "We just want to just keep on working on it, like I said. Then hopefully we can get it right next week."
The Wildcat package actually bit Kentucky's defense a few times against the Bulldogs, too. Stoops said Georgia ran several plays Tennessee had some success with against UK, too.
"They ran the Wildcat a bunch and they hadn't done that much all season, but we had a pretty good plan for it," defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot said. "We had some missed tackles at times ... it was new to them this week, but they adjusted well."
Cats might get Boom back
One of Kentucky's team doctors re-evaluated the elbow injury to star running back Boom Williams and it's possible the sophomore could return to game action as early as next week at Vanderbilt.
"He has a good chance. He has a chance," Stoops said on Saturday of Williams, who made the trip but wasn't dressed for the game. Williams has 563 yards this season, including 428 yards against Southeastern Conference opponents.
■ Linebacker Jason Hatcher is still working his way back from a high ankle sprain that limited him to just a few snaps on Saturday.
"Those take a long time to heal from," defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot said. "Have we been playing him? Yes. Has he been practicing? Yes. But he's not full speed."
■ Kicker Austin MacGinnis still continues to be hampered by a groin injury that kept him from kickoff duties again on Saturday.
The one kickoff he did attempt, what most thought was an onside kick, actually was one he mis-kicked, Stoops said. MacGinnis comfortably made the one field goal he attempted from 32 yards out.