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By LARRY VAUGHT
HOOVER, Ala. — Patrick Towles comes to Kentucky as a highly-touted, record-setting quarterback being counted on to help revive the UK football program just like Tim Couch did almost 20 years ago. Couch went through a difficult first year under coach Bill Curry before Hal Mumme became the head coach and unleashed a wide-open offense that eventually made Couch the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft.
Here are some thoughts Couch shared during the SEC Football Media Days on Towles:
Question: Do you buy that theory that a freshman quarterback like Towles cannot be ready to play in the SEC his first year?
Couch: “I have been through it and it all depends on what is around that freshman as far as the supporting cast. I think talent-wise he may be ready. Mentally he may be ready. But if he doesn’t have a supporting cast around him, it won’t make much difference how talented he is. My situation when I came in as a freshman we were a really bad football team. I was in the wrong offense. It was a disaster. I was terrible. I just don’t want to see him get thrown to the wolves when the support is not there at the offensive line or wide receiver position to really support him as young player because it can break your confidence and that’s the last thing I want for him because he does have a ton of potential and he’s going to be a possible program-changer type of player for us. I think it has to be handled very sensitively when you insert him into the game and let him have success early and gain confidence as he grows.”
Question: Do you like being remembered when fans compare Towles to you?
Couch: “Certainly so. That is one thing about Kentucky fans. They never forget you. If you come there and wear the blue and white and play well and do the right things on and off the field, those fans never forget you. That is what I learned over the years being removed from the program. When I go back, it is just like I played there a couple of years ago and it has been a long time since I played there. Those fans are great. They support the program. Everyone talks about how it is a basketball school, but it is a football school when the product is right. I am not saying it is not a basketball school, but fans will come to football. When I was there, we had tremendous fan support. We went to the Outback Bowl (in Tampa) and probably 30,000 fans came to the game. The fans will travel and support the team and buy the tickets as long as the product is right.”