Aside from starter Drew Barker, Kentucky knew coming into the 2016 season that they were very green at the quarterback position. If the Wildcats are to bounce back from a 1-2 start to go bowling, and potentially save their head coach’s job in the process, they’ll need that position to ripen in a hurry.
Mark Stoops announced Wednesday that Barker “will be out for a significant amount of time” because of a back injury. According to the school, the issue flared up this summer, then was aggravated in the Week 2 loss to Florida and further aggravated in the Week 3 win over New Mexico State. Barker lasted just one series in the latter game.
After seeing a specialist, it was recommended that Barker rest the next three weeks. At that point in time, he’ll be reevaluated.
Right now, surgery is not required.
“His mother, his father, Drew, Jim Madaleno and our doctors are all on the same page, and they believe the best treatment is rest right now and some treatment, and the best idea for him is non-operative at this point in time,” the coach said in quotes distributed by the school. “If that changes, I’ll let you know. When he gets back out on the field, I’ll let you know. But he is out for a significant amount of time.”
Barker, at least statistically, began the season with promise, throwing for 323 yards and four touchdowns in a loss to Southern Miss. The following week however, he completed just two of his 10 passes for 10 yards in a 38-point bating at the hands of the “rival” Gators.
With Barker out for the foreseeable future, the Wildcats will turn to Stephen Johnson II. In relief of Barker, the junior college transfer completed 17-of-22 passes for 310 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Johnson II will make his first career FBS start against South Carolina in Lexington this weekend. Should the new starter go down, no other quarterback on the roster has attempted a pass at this level.
Barker took over for Patrick Towles as the starter in the latter part of the 2015 season, with the then-freshman being named the starter in spring practice. By that time, Towles had already transferred to Boston College and is now the Eagles’ starter as a graduate transfer.