Best-case, worst-case for Kentucky's Towles in first career start
Kentucky redshirt sophomore Patrick Towles is poised to make his first career start for the Wildcats when they kick off the 2014 season on Saturday against UT Martin.
The Skyhawks were 0-2 against FBS opponents last season, losing those games by a combined score of 84-20, and they should pose no threat to the Cats in this year’s season opener.
With that said, there is still a lot on the line for Towles in his first career start. He could have a career day, setting the bar high at the start of what could be a breakout season. Or he could falter against an inferior team, even in a victory, upsetting an oft-disappointed fan base already counting the days to basketball season.
He’ll probably perform somewhere in the middle of those extremes, but here are the best- and worst-case scenarios for Towles when he takes the field Saturday:
Towles does everything short of kicking the PATs for the UK offense, proving head coach Mark Stoops and offensive coordinator Neal Brown to be geniuses with his play in the Air Raid.
Towles attempts more than 30 passes and completes 75 percent of this throws, hitting receivers in stride like a well-oiled machine. He throws for at least three touchdowns, including at least one deep ball to a down-field threat like Javess Blue or Ryan Timmons. The 6-5, 240-pound quarterback even moves around outside the pocket, extending plays with his legs and executing one impressive run to keep opposing linebackers honest.
The Cats score at least 35 points and Towles does a little bit of everything before sitting out the fourth quarter of an easy victory.
Towles lets nerves get the best of him and looks out of rhythm all game. The Cats’ starter turns the ball over multiple times, including at least one interception, and is inaccurate with his throws. His timing seems off and he shows no command of the offense, allowing the unit as a whole to fall further and further out of sync. The Skyhawks are able to hang close on the scoreboard into the second half, causing the home fans to grow restless or leave the game early to avoid further disappointment.
A true worst-case scenario would involve Kentucky losing this game, but that result seems unrealistic (although not impossible). However, even in a victory, if UK wins by single digits and doesn’t have the coming-out party most expect in Lexington Saturday, talk among fans regarding Stoops’ choice in this month’s quarterback competition will only grow louder. Those talks rattle Towles and his teammates, and UK’s season is never able to get off the ground.
The likely scenario
Towles passes the ball close to 30 times, taking a few shots down the field but mostly sticking to short and intermediate routes. He completes somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 percent of his passes for a little more than 200 yards, perhaps turning the ball over once on a fluke play. The Cats’ deep stable of running backs helps take the pressure off Towles, and he allows his playmakers to do all the work as he patiently manages the offense against a lackluster FCS defense. Kentucky wins easily and Towles shows some growth in his first playing time in two seasons.