UK Football: QB Patrick Towles losing his redshirt, will play against Mississippi State
Freshman quarterback Patrick Towles will no longer be redshirted now that Kentucky starting quarterback Maxwell Smith is out with an ankle injury. Towles will make his UK debut Saturday when the Cats host Mississippi State. (Victoria Graff / October 2, 2012)
“The team we’re playing has no idea what they’re about to get. We don’t know,” said Phillips.
That’s because UK¿won’t have sophomore quarterback Maxwell Smith for this game or likely any more this season. Phillips announced¿Monday that Smith would need surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left ankle after he was hurt on the second play of Saturday’s loss to South Carolina. Smith missed the Florida game two weeks ago with a shoulder injury, but he had still completed 103 of 150 passes (68.7 percent) for 975 yards and eight touchdowns with four interceptions in three complete games.
“He’s down, obviously,” Phillips said. “He worked his tail off to be in the position to play major-college football.”
Whitlow took over for Smith against South Carolina and was 12-for-23 passing for 114 yards with two interceptions. He was also sacked seven times.
Towles, who led Highlands to three state titles and was Kentucky’s Mr. Football last year, was scheduled to be redshirted but Smith’s injury has forced Phillips to change that plan. Phillips said UK¿would “pull the redshirt off” and play Towles.
“We’ll have to play them both,” Phillips said Monday at his weekly press conference. “It’s going to take an effort of both of them. And it could be right in the middle of a series. It could be play after play after play, switching them out. We have to give them both things they can do.
Unbeaten Mississippi State leads the Southeastern Conference with nine interceptions.
Towles was a four-star recruit who threw for 3,820 yards and ran for 589 yards while accounting for 57 touchdowns his senior year. However, he’s been running the scout team offense after Smith won the starting job and senior Morgan Newton was named the backup with Whitlow No. 3. Newton started at Florida when Smith was hurt, but was ineffective and was not even mentioned by Phillips on Monday.
“He’s in the meetings, pays attention in the meetings,” Phillips said. “We’ll see tomorrow exactly how much he knows and what he can do.”
Phillips said Whitlow originally was put ahead of Towles because he could “extend plays” with his running ability.
“Not saying that patty ice can’t (extend plays). He does move around some, but not as well as Jalen. Jalen was signed as an athlete. He should move around better. Patty ice is more of a pocket quarterback,” Phillips said.
Towles uses @patty_ice14 as his name on Twitter. Phillips said all Towles asked him was not to call him “pattycakes” and later joked that “we have got to laugh” about a season that has UK 1-4 and now ready to turn the offense over to two true freshmen quarterbacks. Phillips later said he did not feel snakebit, either, because of the injuries.
“It is football. We understand that injuries come with it,” Phillips said.
One plus for Towles and UK could be that his style is more similar to Smith’s and offensive coordinator Randy Sanders designed the offense to suit Smith’s skills.
“We have got to tweak it to what he (Whitlow) can do and what the other guy (Towles) can do,” Phillips said. “He (Towles) is a little bit closer to Max than Jalen.¿Jalen is a guy that can run around and make plays and extend plays. Patty is a guy,¿I shouldn’t say Patty, who can sit in the pocket and complete passes.”
Phillips said he would definitely play both and that Whitlow likely would be the one to start Saturday depending on what play UK¿wants to open the game using.
The coach talked to both Whitlow and Towles on Sunday night after learning that Smith’s injury could be this serious before it was confirmed Monday that he would need surgery.
“He (Towles) came here to play, so definitely he is excited,” Phillips said. “We have been in close communication with him.”