By LARRY VAUGHT
Quarterback Drew Barker did not practice Tuesday because of his lingering back issues and offensive coordinator Eddie Gran said Stephen Johnson will be the starter Saturday night against South Carolina.
“Stephen is be the guy and they’re still getting evaluated and still getting in stuff with Drew. That’s all we know right now. Right now, Stephen’s the guy,” Gran said.
Johnson played well in UK’s 62-42 win over New Mexico State after Barker went out after throwing an interception on the first series. Kentucky amassed almost 700 yards of offense with Johnson at quarterback.
But what if Johnson went down?
That would leave UK with Cincinnati transfer Luke Wright or true freshman Gunnar Hoak at quarterback. Wright played briefly last week while UK was hoping to redshirt Hoak.
“Right now, Gunnar is going right now and getting the backup work. Luke is ready to go, has done a great job, mentally especially. It’s really close between the two of them and so both of them got to be ready just like Landon Young was ready (at tackle), just like Benny Snell was ready (at running back). Those two have to be ready to come in and play,” Gran said.
Would Gran be comfortable burning Hoak’s redshirt season if he was needed in a game?
“I think sometimes it can happen in a game and sometimes when it happens right there immediately, you have to make those decisions, you have to already have talked about them. There’s a certain point where you say no and there’s a certain point where you say yes,” Gran said.
Gran would not totally rule out Barker being able to play Saturday. The sophomore quarterback is scheduled to have a MRI Wednesday.
“I know they’re still checking him and I know he’s got another meeting,” Gran said.