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Kentucky Wildcats Morning Quickies: Quarterback Debate Edition

Who should be the starting QB versus South Carolina? Stoops says Barker, but almost everyone else says Johnson.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation, and welcome to the Tuesday Morning Quickies.

Today’s lead story is the Kentucky quarterback situation. Yesterday, Mark Stoops announced that Drew Barker’s back injury would probably sideline him for the game against South Carolina, leaving the starting spot to last week’s hero, Stephen Johnson.

Apparently, Barker has had an ongoing back problem since fall camp:

"He’s had some issues that were lingering, so it’s not just one hit," Stoops said of the injury that sidelined Barker for the rest of the game on Saturday and likely led to his early interception.

Despite that, Stoops reiterated that Barker is #1 on the depth chart, even though getting into practice on Wednesday, let alone the game on Saturday, would require a “miraculous recovery.”

Reading between the lines, a skill which I admit has atrophied somewhat in my new role as blogger emeritus here at A Sea of Blue, it seems that Stephen Johnson II has not sold the coaching staff in general or Stoops in particular on his ability to consistently run the offense. That stands athwart the evidence of all our eyes, which suggested Johnson looked sharper at the helm on Friday than Barker has ever looked in his career, absent the first half against Southern Mississippi.

On the other hand, these are guys that see these players every day in practice. A good game against a poor defensive team does not a star make, but I confess, I appreciated the sound decision-making of Johnson very much, something that Barker has not shown in abundance this season.

I don’t know if Kentucky needs a brash, strong-armed stud or a “game manager” at the helm this season, but we should get a good look at Johnson against a much more talented SEC foe this weekend. A strong performance against USC might begin to bring Stoops around. A weak performance will likely solidify his judgment.

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