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QB Drew Barker still No. 1 on depth chart

Drew Barker lasted only a few plays against New Mexico State before leaving with back issues. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Drew Barker lasted only a few plays against New Mexico State before leaving with back issues. (Vicky Graff Photo)


Even though Stephen Johnson threw for 310 yards in last week’s win over New Mexico State after starter Drew Barker was injured, Kentucky coach Mark Stoops indicated today that Barker will be the starter on Saturday against South Carolina if he is healthy.

“He’s listed as the starter on the depth chart for a reason,” Stoops said Monday.

Stoops revealed that Barker had an MRI to get a closer look at his back and UK is consulting with a specialist. The coach said Barker had “lingering” back problems from this summer and some popped up again after the loss at Florida two weeks ago.

Stoops said “it wasn’t just one hit” that caused Barker’s issue but was rather a chronic problem.
The coach did say he anticipated Johnson being part of the game plan even if Barker is healthy.

Many assumed Johnson would be the starter after the struggles Barker had in the second half against Southern Mississippi and entire game at Florida. He had six turnovers in those six quarters and UK failed to score when he was in the game.

Barker has completed 18 of 36 passes for 334 yards and four touchdowns and five interceptions this season.

Johnson is more of a dual-threat quarterback but Stoops said he told him to quit running the ball in the second half of last week’s 62-42 win to avoid an injury.

Cincinnati transfer Luke Wright is still listed as the No. 3 quarterback and played briefly last week to finish the game. However, Stoops said true freshman Gunnar Hoak will get more practice reps this week with Barker injured. The plan had been to redshirt Hoak.


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  1. Don’t understand this move.

    1. Ditto old friend. So much for “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
      I don’t get it.

  2. Starting to think Stoops just doesn’t want to admit that he’s wrong.

  3. I still think Barker has potential, but he has played very, very poorly since the first half of the Southern Miss game and threw a bad interception to start the New Mexico State game. Johnson looked calm and confident out there and seemed to have a better grasp of the offense than Barker. His ability to run the read option opened up the running game and made the offensive line’s job a lot easier. He also got the ball to Conrad and threw a nice deep ball. I hope Stoops just doesn’t want to tip his hand to South Carolina, because, at this point, it’s very hard to see how Barker gives the Cats a better chance of winning than Johnson does.

  4. I’m all for starting Johnson as well. But, remember it was New Mexico State. They’ve had a whole bunch of points scored on them in the past just like KY. Before we state throwing Barker out with the bathwater, Let’s see what Johnson does with a real SEC defense and SC just isn’t that good this year. Like I said before, OC was disciplined and stayed within Johnson’s capabilities and New Mexico State did their part to make him look good, just like our defense does. Again, before we throw Barker out, just make sure Johnson has a full quiver of arrows.

  5. IMO Stoops continues to show his immaturity or unpreparedness to handle the duties of HC. He was disappointed in the defense because they didn’t show the IQ he was wanting….you have got to be kidding me. How can you not start Johnson with the product he put on the field and it shouldn’t necessarily matter how good/bad that team was? Barker has only really show some potential. There is now some evidence out there that suggests that he might not be mentally prepared to execute his job description. I don’t remember reading too much about his back problems in the past and have been wondering if this injury might have been one of convenience for him because of the way he started the game. The injury has been a closely guarded secret since the game. Duped by Stoops.

  6. I say roll with the momentum. Start Johnson. My guess is Stoops wants to keep SC guessing.

  7. Not one of you saw the statement the coach .made via TV after this had been presented. It’s so easy to see what “Mike” or Pup
    post that you don’t need to read their crap but you others need to get the entire story. Barker is not (that’s NOT) cast in stone as the starter. Take it from there. OCD’d by Mike.
    RJ, you sir are correct.

    1. PK….at some point, in the not too distant future, you will stop standing up for Stoops. He continues to be the problem and not the solution. His expertise was supposed to be defense. He has showcased some of the worse defense in the history of UK FB since he has been here. Have you ever seen a coach that looked more bewildered when the camera picks him up during the game? We lose to SC you will be sucking up to the Pup and me.

  8. Oh man

  9. Stoops said today that it would be a miracle if Barker was able to play this week. No one will know till the MRI is done. i think it is great we have a capable back up who might be the best to start or maybe not. let this play out and enjoy having a QB that can play like Johnson or Barker. Barker may have been hurt, and that is the reason he played so bad at Florida. i will be pulling for either. Looks like Johnson this week, so I hope he continues to progress. I love that he is able to pull out of the pocket and avoid sacks. looks like a move in the right direction. GO CATS!!!!

  10. Barker may be done, period. A bad back at his age does not bode well for the future. I’m sorry but spinal stuff is serious medial business and usually does not respond to treatment well in the long run if he is taking repeated hits.. If Drew’s back at 19 years old feel like mine at 68 I’m surprised he can even run.

  11. Barker earned #1 for a reason. I also agree that changing the depth chart now, even if there is a justification, is not the right move strategically at this point. No need to tell USC which QB they will face prior to UK’s first offensive possession on Saturday night.

    As for Barker, I hope he recovers from his injury quickly because whether he is the best UK has or he is the 2nd best UK has, UK needs two healthy QBs to move forward through the SEC season.

    1. USC has already seen both Barker and Johnson in game situations. Johnson last, and in a win. They have to prepare for both anyway. so start Johnson. Maybe Stoops will do just that. We shall see. Not many advantages in surprises at this level of play against SEC teams.

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