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Barker our for “foreseeable future” with back problem

Drew Barker (Vicky Graff Photo)

Drew Barker (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

After waiting two years to become Kentucky’s top quarterback, Drew Barker is going to be out at least the next three to four weeks — and maybe longer — because of a lingering back injury from this summer that no one at UK had disclosed until he went out after three plays against New Mexico State last week.

“The bottom line is Drew will be out. He has an injury that does not require surgery at this point in time, and he will be out for a significant amount of time,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said after practice Wednesday. “I have no idea how long that’ll be. When I say significant, he’s out for the foreseeable future, the next two, three, four weeks. After that we’ll re-evaluate him and see where he’s at.

“He saw a specialist. His mother, his father, Drew, (trainer) 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. 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 started the final two games of last season and all three this year. He had thrown for 334 yards with four touchdowns — all against Southern Mississippi — and five interceptions. Based on Stoops’ timetable, Barker’s best scenario would be to return when UK hosts Mississippi State Oct. 22 after missing three games and a bye week.

“We’ll get him some medicine, get him some treatment, get him some rest and see,” Stoops said.

So is there really a chance he will play this year?

“I’ll answer that because I know everybody’s going to bring it up and speculate. The plan is, and Drew’s on board, his parents are on board, our docs are on board that he will be out a significant amount of time. Again, what that is at least three, four, five weeks. At that point in time, we’ll see,” Stoops said.

“You don’t know how the back’s going to respond at this point. So we will re-evaluate it, but we’re certainly not going to re-evaluate it for at least three weeks or so. And so I have no idea whether he’ll be able to come back and play this year or not.”

Stoops said Barker was naturally disappointed after he had worked to become the starter.

“I really feel for him because he’s put a lot of time and energy and work to get in this position. So that’s tough on him. He did do some very good things in Game 1, in Game 2 he got hit early, and that hit bothered him. He’s not one, and we’re not one to make an excuse for him, but it’s a fact. It’s a legitimate serious injury,” Stoops said.

“He’s not just a quarterback who took a shot. I don’t know if that gave him the injury, but it certainly bothered him after that and probably was a big part of the reason why he played the way he did (at Florida).”

Stephen Johnson obviously will the starter against South Carolina Saturday night after his sparkling play in relief of Barker against New Mexico State when he led UK to 62 points and almost 700 yards of total offense.

Stoops indicated Monday that true freshman Gunnar Hoak would be No. 2 if Barker could not play. He said again Wednesday that they were preparing Hoak to play.

“Just like Stephen always prepared as the backup, he would as well. Gunnar will prepare to be the backup quarterback. If Stephen goes down, Gunnar will go in. And Luke (Wright) will be available as well,” Stoops said.

Stoops said on the SEC coaches teleconference earlier Wednesday that he was confident Johnson would play well against New Mexico State but was not expecting him to throw for 310 yards and three touchdowns.

“We knew he’d shown signs in practice of being very efficient at running the offense. He’s a very consciences kid, he works extremely hard, he wants to perform well for his team and he has some talent. So you knew he’d be good, but to see him play that well, I don’t know if I saw that coming,” Stoops said.

“You take that first series away and he was unbelievably efficient. The first series you could see the jitters, he was a little nervous, and the next series he settles in. Of course, the run game helped settle him in a little bit. But he went out there and just operated the offense and was very comfortable and very poised and efficient.”

11 comments

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  1. Norman Einstein

    Thought this might be the case when the word “chronic” was used to describe his back problem.Been there, done that.
    Hang in there kid.

    GO CATS

    1. Norman Einstein

      And I watched him dragging that right leg when he got in the golf cart. Tells me an irritated sciatic nerve. Nothing to play around with.

  2. RJ

    It’s all speculation at this point but he’s obviously in a lot of pain. If you tear the wrong muscle group or tendons back there, you can really do some long lasting damage, perhaps permanent.

    1. Norman Einstein

      I think it’s more involved than that RJ. I suffered an inoperable injury to L5/S1 in ’06 and the aftermath changed my life forever. Granted that I’m an old goat and the young heal quicker but the symptoms I saw tell me it’s a lumbar spinal issue. They looked way too familiar.

  3. Larry Pup

    I feel for Barker, and that is a tough break for him, but it is next man up. It is Johnson’s turn to lead this team. It looks like Gunnar will play a role as the backup.

    On another troubling issue, Stoops threw his defense under the bus at the Wed. practice report. He commented that they were not tough and not smart, WOW!!! I just think that sort of thing should be kept between him and his team and not mentioned to the media. Stoops should be tough as nails on them at practice, that’s his job, especially if they are not responding, but he should have their back before the media and the public. Stoops, IMO, is covering his own self in this.

    1. UKFMLY

      I couldn’t agree more LP

    2. RJ

      Stoops can’t cover his tail…He recruited them..

    3. Norman Einstein

      Sorry LP but I disagree on your position about calling out the players. These young men need to be held accountable at this level. In 4 more years they’re either going to be an employee somewhere or if they’re good, playing on Sunday. That time is right around the bend for them. Time to immerse themselves in the process or watch.

      1. Larry Pup

        I don’t disagree Norman on calling them out, if it’s needed, but he can do that privately, and in more ways that one by sitting some of them on the bench come game day if they are not giving great effort and not motivated at practice and on the field. My point is, a coach should have his players backs publicly and before the media. They are getting hit from all sides by everybody everyday. You stay together as a team, winning and losing together, not a bunch of whiners like Stoops comes across as. Keep it “in house.”. If I were one of these defenders busting my butt everyday on the practice field, what Stoops did yesterday would tick me off big time. Would you want to play for this guy?

    4. TrueBlueJohn

      If Stoops does it, he is covering himself. If Saban does it, he is motivating his team through the Media. ???????

      1. Larry Pup

        TrueBlue, if the defense ain’t playing right and giving great effort at practice, who is ultimately responsible for that? What good does it do to get before the Media and run your own team down for the very area you are responsible for? That is a reflection on him IMO. I think the less he says to the media the better off he i until he rights the ship..

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