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Sports Notes: Backup Barker finally gets on the field on the wrong end of a Kentucky blowout


Kentucky backup quarterback Drew Barker saw  his first live action of the season in the fourth quarter of  the Mississippi State game (UK Athletics Photo)

Kentucky backup quarterback Drew Barker saw his first live action of the season in the fourth quarter of the Mississippi State game (UK Athletics Photo)

By Glenn Osborne
KyForward Sports Editor

All season long, Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops has maintained that he’d like to get some live snaps for his backup quarterback, redshirt freshman Drew Barker.

The only problem was finding the right opportunity. Stoops wanted to insert the former Connor star in a game that had already been decided, not one that could turn on a costly mistake. And Kentucky’s first six games were all decided by eight points or less, the first time a season has begun with that many closely contested games in the history of the program.

Well, Stoops and Barker finally got their opportunity Saturday against Mississippi State. The rub was, the Wildcats were on the wrong side of the blowout. When Barker entered the game at the under eight-minute mark, Kentucky was assured of its third loss of the year, trailing 42-16. Ouch.

Barker completed seven of his nine attempts with an interception for 42 yards. He also ran three times for 20 yards. Starter Patrick Towles, meanwhile, was good on 23 of 42 passes for 218 yards and a pair of costly turnovers. He did run for UK’s only touchdown.

“I’d like to be up by three or four scores and put him in … let him get his feet wet,” Stoops said. “This was the first time where I just felt like I wanted to get him in. Patrick did some good things and he struggled a bit like all of us.”

Once again, the Cats struggled against MSU quarterback Dak Prescott, who accounted for all six of his team’s touchdowns — three in the air and three on the ground. He amassed 465 yards (348 passing), which was more than Kentucky managed as a team.

So after keeping every game competitive, snaring an SEC road win over South Carolina and another league decision against Missouri, Kentucky finds itself at something of a crossroads after the blowout against the Bulldogs. Will the Cats be able to halt the regression, particularly on defense, when Tennessee visits Commonwealth Stadium Saturday night or will the Vols dispatch the Cats as easily as they did last year, a 50-16 embarrassment?

Losses to Tennessee and at Georgia in two weeks would leave Stoops’ squad with a 4-5 record and five conference losses. A winning season would require a year-ending three-game winning streak against Vanderbilt, Charlotte and Louisville.

It would certainly be to the Wildcats’ advantage to have a bowl berth firmly in hand before that Thanksgiving weekend finale against Bobby Petrino’s unpredictable Cardinals.

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Boom Williams rushed for 95 yards against the Bulldogs, running his career total to 1,037. He is the 35th UK player to surpass 1,000 rushing yards and he accomplished the feat in 16 games. He is behind only Moe Williams’ pace (13 games) in reaching the milestone in the past 30 years.

Both Williams and Jojo Kemp reached the 1,000-yard career rushing mark, the sixth time in school history that two Wildcats have reached that plateau in the same season. The others: Sonny Collins and Doug Kotar (1973); Chris Hill and Rod Stewart (1978); Mark Higgs and Marc Logan (1985); Damon Hood and Moe Williams (1994); and Derek Homer and Anthony White (1998).

Patrick Towles now has 4,681 passing yards for his career, moving past Rick Norton (4,514) for sixth place on the UK career list.

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Ole Miss easily handled Texas A&M 27-3 in last weekend’s most surprising SEC matchup. Alabama held off Tennessee by five points and Arkansas used four overtimes to subdue Auburn. Vandy knocked off Missouri, 10-3.

Florida, coming off a bye, controls the East Division with one loss. Georgia has a pair of losses while Kentucky and Tennessee have each lost three games. In the West, LSU — a 48-20 winner over Western Kentucky last week — remains the league’s only unbeaten team while Alabama and Mississippi each have one SEC loss.

This week’s key games, in addition to the UK-Tennessee matchup on the SEC Network, includes Florida’s trip to Georgia and Auburn hosting Ole Miss. Texas A&M hosts South Carolina.

Looking ahead, Alabama will play host to LSU in a game that will likely decide the West Division race on Nov. 7.

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The University of Louisville athletics department inducted six new members into its Athletics Hall of Fame Friday at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

This year’s class included Deion Branch, a receiver for the Cardinals’ football team who later was named MVP of the Super Bowl; Herbert Crook, a starting forward on UofL’s 1986 NCAA Championship team who is also among the Cardinals’ career scoring and rebounding leaders; Sonya Gubaidulina Karmazin, an All-American volleyball player for the Cardinals who is ninth in career kills at UofL; Christy Hershey Allman, a four-year starter at goalkeeper for the Cardinals’ field hockey team and a two-time All-American; Mark Jurich, an All-American outfielder for the Cardinals who is among the Cardinals career power hitting leaders; and Sara Nord, the Cardinals’ all-time assist leader in women’s basketball.


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