Through the first five games of the season, the Kentucky football team had lost its starting quarterback Terry Wilson to a knee injury, lost a heartbreaker to then-No. 9 ranked Florida and failed to secure an SEC win. Now, after traveling to South Carolina and losing a third straight game, the injury-ridden Wildcats enter their first of two bye weeks of the season.
"We've got a few days here this week to really concentrate on ourselves and to get better," UK head coach Mark Stoops said after practice Tuesday. "Like I said after the game, there's guys that can really take this time to rest up and get healthy, which us good for them, but also for the rest of the team."
The loss of Wilson has clearly been a big problem for Kentucky, and after its offensive performance against the Gamecocks, it’s clear there’s going to be some adjustments when it comes to who’s taking the snaps. The bye week will give UK two full weeks to work out some kinks at quarterback, and one of their options, which they explored at South Carolina, is putting wide receiver Lynn Bowden in the spot.
We’ve seen Bowden take snaps here and there when Kentucky runs the Wildcat formation, but we have yet to see him play consistent reps at quarterback. After Sawyer Smith took four sacks and failed to lead the Cats down field for a score, Bowden was put in at quarterback at the end of the fourth quarter and led the team down the field to an eventual touchdown, their only one in the 24-7 loss. He played quarterback in high school and finished his senior season throwing for 1,366 yards, rushing for 2,277 yards and is credited for 57 total touchdowns. Stoops told media Tuesday evening that Bowden is now "in the quarterback room but he still needs to stay in tune with the wide receivers."
With freshman Nik Scalzo out for the season with a pre-season knee injury, Kentucky’s other option is third-string quarterback Walker Wood.
Another issue troubling the Cats is their thin defense. UK already came into the season thin after losing seven starters, and through five games, injuries and suspensions have made the defense lose depth it couldn’t afford to lose. The bye week will give Kentucky a few weeks to heal up some players, one being starting defensive back Jordan Griffin who didn’t start against South Carolina, and played very little, due to an injury he suffered against Mississippi State.
Griffin, who Stoops says should be ready to go against Arkansas, stepped up to lead the secondary after Davonte Robinson was ruled out for the season over the summer to a quad injury. Other injuries the UK defense is dealing with are freshmen Taj Dodson and MJ Devonshire. Add Phil Hoskins to the list, who was suspended for the first two games of the season because of an academic issue, but then was injured in his first game back during warmups of the Florida game.
Between injuries, quarterback issues and hunger for a conference win, the Cats hope to work out some kinks and rest up over the bye week. Next week they’ll start preparing the Arkansas Razorbacks, currently at the very bottom of the SEC West rankings. That game will be on October 12 in Lexington, also Homecoming day.