The night before UK’s season-opening contest with UT Martin last Saturday afternoon, Patrick Towles had trouble going to sleep. He was very restless, anxious and nervous.
After two long seasons at Kentucky when Towles didn’t see much game action as a true freshman in 2012 and was redshirted last fall, Kentucky’s new starting quarterback really wanted to help his Wildcats kick off their campaign on a high note with an impressive performance.
And the 6-5 Towles, a Parade All-American who played at Highlands High School in Fort Thomas, Ky., got it done despite his pre-game nervousness, throwing for 377 yards and one TD in leading the Cats to a 45-point victory over the Skyhawks of the Ohio Valley Conference.
“I was very nervous,” Towles told the reporters after the contest. “I didn’t get much sleep last night. I got some sleep, but not as much I would have liked to. I was just ready to go. I wanted to get out there and start playing.”
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops liked what he saw in Towles, who wears his UK jersey No. 14 because his grandfather Jim Bunning, a Baseball Hall of Famer, wore it.
“He was very poised and he made very good decisions,” Stoops said of Towles during his post-game news conference. “We know he has the talent to get the ball down the field.”
UK wide receiver Blake Bone praised Towles, whose nickname is “Patty Ice.”
“I think Patrick played excellent,” commented Bone, who caught two passes for 65 yards, including a 29-yard TD. “You’ve seen his numbers. Numbers don’t lie. He basically gave the football in an ‘Air Raid’ and it was fun to go out and catch balls from him today.”
Asked about his confidence, Towles said, “I felt like I did well as a whole. There were a couple bad decisions that were made by me but as you saw, I did what coach has been wanting me to, and that was coming out in the next series and making two good decisions that canceled out my bad ones.”
In the third quarter, Towles made a dashing run when he scored on a 23-yard touchdown.
And it was 6-5, 198-pound Bone who opened up a TD path for Towles with his blocking at near the goal line. Bone said the team has been working on blocking schemes and techniques.
“It’s just the little things we work on in practice and I’m glad I got to showcase that,” said Bone, a true freshman from South Carolina who was a four-star recruit. “You know you don’t see many wide receivers doing that in the SEC. I’m glad I could help my team out and help Patrick get in the end zone with that block.”
Needless to say, Towles — who was named “Mr. Football” for the state of Kentucky while in high school — has begun to display his raw talent with his good size and a strong arm on the field.
His promising future at UK is certainly getting brighter.
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The Wildcats, now 1-0, get a much tougher test this Saturday when they host the Ohio Bobcats, who have played in five straight bowl games. The 3:30 p.m. matchup will be televised by ESPNU.
Ohio, coached by ex-Nebraska boss Frank Solich, is coming off a 17-14 win over Kent State in a Mid-American Conference matchup last Saturday. According to a preseason college football yearbook, the Bobcats are a formidable club with an expected second-place finish in a seven-team division this fall.
Stoops said, in his Monday’s news conference, that Ohio is a more talented and experienced squad with eight starters returning on defense. He also mentioned the team’s bowl experience in recent years.
“(It’s) a team that plays sound, good, tough football,” said the coach. “They’re not going to give you things easy. You have to go earn them.”
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My fearless forecast for this weekend’s college football matchups:
— Ole Miss at Vanderbilt: Rebels by 14.
— Arkansas State at Tennessee: Vols by 16.
— Ohio at Kentucky: Wildcats by 10.
— Murray State at Louisville: Cardinals by 24.
— Michigan State at Oregon: Ducks by 6.
— Michigan at Notre Dame: Fighting Irish by 3.
— Virginia Tech at Ohio State: Buckeyes by 7.
— USC at Stanford: Cardinal by 3.