The Wildcats offensive line better do a darn good job protecting incumbent starter Patrick Towles.

Kentucky’s roster contains just two healthy scholarship quarterbacks after Reese Phillips ruptured his Achilles tendon in practice Wednesday, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

A 6-foot-2, 218-pound rising sophomore, Phillips spent 2014 as Towles’ backup, appearing in three games and notching his only two completions in the season opener against Tennessee-Martin.

What appeared to set up as a serious three-way competition for the starting quarterback position looks more and more like Towles will enter the fall as the clear-cut No. 1.

Drew Barker, a four-star member of the ’14 class who enrolled early and then redshirted last season, has endured a second consecutive offseason with an off-field incident. After getting charged with second-degree disorderly conduct for an on-campus incident involving an airsoft pellet gun Sept. 28, Richmond police have questioned Barker and teammates Tymere Dubose and Dorian Baker about their role in a bar fight that took place in January.

Barker now seems like more of a long shot to beat out Towles for the starting job.

Though the Herald-Leader didn’t provide a timeline for Phillips’ recovery, it seems highly unlikely he’d be ready to go for the start of the season, and that’s without any practice time. Former UK starter Maxwell Smith transferred to San Diego State after graduating in January and reportedly will compete to become the starter for the Aztecs.

That leaves Towles, who completed 57.4 percent of his passes at 6.9 yards per attempt in ’14, along with a paltry TD/INT ratio of 14/9.

New offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson is tasked with ramping up the team’s Air Raid offense by better leveraging the emerging talent in the backfield and developing a slew of well-regarded high school receivers that signed in the ’14 class. Both of those elements should help the starting quarterback, but the Wildcats need Towles to develop as well with his mechanics and consistency.

“You’re going to have to earn your stripes,” Dawson said regarding the quarterback competition at his introductory news conference. “You’re going to have to earn the job. So we’re going to give those guys opportunities to compete just like I’ve done everywhere I’ve been. And whoever is the most efficient guy and whoever is the best guy is going to get the job.”

The Wildcats don’t start the 15 allotted organized spring practices until Saturday, but already the coaches must be extra delicate with Towles and Barker during drills. UK is one or two injuries away from disaster mode and may need to get through the entire season with those two players as the only capable quarterbacks.

Kentucky will not play a spring game due to stadium renovations, so if Barker is to make this a legitimate competition, he’ll have to do so in practice. Phillips’ injury does mean he should get more practice reps and perhaps an opportunity to prove himself on the field.