LEXINGTON, Ky. – University of Kentucky football head coach Joker Phillips led the UK football team out to the Tim Couch Practice Fields on Wednesday to continue preparation for Southeastern Conference foe Missouri this weekend in Columbia, Mo. Kickoff is set for Noon ET and will be televised on ESPNU.
Like Kentucky, Missouri has also dealt with injuries at the quarterback position as its starting quarterback James Franklin has missed time this season. Franklin has not played recently due to injury and his status for the UK game is up in the air. Phillips said they have to prepare for him nonetheless.
“You still have to prepare,” Phillips said. “They still run some of the read stuff (with backup quarterback Corbin Berkstresser). He probably hands it more than Franklin would. Franklin was always looking to run. He rushed for close to 1,000 yards last year. So we’ve still got to prepare for a guy who can still pull it (and run). He (Berkstresser) can move. He’s not a pure pocket passer. They’ve recruited to their system. He doesn’t have the mobility that Franklin does, but we’ll still have to prepare the same way, just have to prepare more for the down the field throws a little bit more.”
Berkstresser has seen most the reps since Franklin’s absence. On the season, Berkstresser is 54-for-113 for 627 yards and three touchdowns. Berkstresser started and led Missouri to a win against Arizona State earlier in the year. Phillips said the freshman played well that game.
“He looked good,” Phillips said. “He got the ‘W.’ It was his first start and he got the ‘W’ in that game. He played a lot in the Vanderbilt game and he played against a great defense against Alabama. It would be tough for anybody to go in against Alabama. He’s a guy who knows their offense. He’s been in their program for two years.”
Regarding Kentucky’s QB situation, Phillips said that true freshman quarterback Patrick Towles practiced again Wednesday, getting significant reps as he recovers from a high-ankle sprain incurred Oct. 6 vs. Mississippi State. Phillips said if Towles does play, it will be a similar gameplan to the one UK had against Mississippi State with Towles and fellow true freshman Jalen Whitlow each getting playing time at the position. Phillips has been pleased with Towles’ play the last two days at practice.
“I thought he looked better yesterday as far as his control of the ball and command all those things, but again, it’s the first reps he’s gotten in a long time,” Phillips said. “So we’ll throw him out there and see how he looks.
“He had an air cast on yesterday and he just didn’t feel comfortable with it,” Phillips continued. “He still moved around fairly well. Today once he took it off, I thought he actually moved around a lot better today than he did yesterday. The cast might have limited him a little bit in the mobility in his ankle.”
On the injury front, senior defensive back Martavius Neloms was limited on Wednesday, according to Phillips, while the head coach said senior safety Mikie Benton practiced and did more than yesterday. Offensive lineman Zach West did not practice Wednesday due to injury and will be looked at again Thursday, according to Phillips.