LEXINGTON, Ky. — Stephen Johnson’s name is atop Kentucky’s depth chart at quarterback, but junior backup Drew Barker could see playing time Saturday against Southern Miss.
“I would love to get Drew in the game,” Stoops said at his Monday press conference. “I think he deserves an opportunity and we’ll see where it goes. That’s very difficult at that position but we have a lot of trust in Drew. We absolutely would love to get him in this game.”
Barker hasn’t played a snap since Week 3 last season when he injured his back against New Mexico State. Barker had season ending surgery in November and has been working toward a return ever since. The former starting quarterback lost his job to Johnson, but now there are two viable options in Kentucky’s quarterback room.
“The great thing about Drew is he has done what we’ve asked him to do,” Stoops said. “Let’s not worry about who the starter is and who’s not. Whenever he goes into the game and gets an opportunity, he has to function at a high level and he’s taken that attitude of just going to work every day in practice to improve himself. And sooner or later, he’s going to get an opportunity to go in a game and play and hopefully, he’ll play at a high level.”
Several positions on Kentucky’s depth chart have an “either or” listed as the starter, but Johnson is the clear No. 1 quarterback.
Johnson led Kentucky to all seven of its wins last season, and the former junior college transfer still has a grip on the starting job entering Week 1 of his senior season.
“I think the number one issue is ball security, and I think he’s worked really hard with that,” Stoops said of Johnson. “I think he’s, as you know, a very conscientious young man and that’s very important to him. I think that’s the biggest area. I think he’s worked hard at accuracy and the defenses and the offense and where to go with the football and a lot of areas, but the number one issue would be protecting the football.”
Kentucky opens the season at 4 p.m. ET Saturday at Southern Miss.
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