LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Drew Barker will not have surgery on his injured back, but will instead get treatment and rest, missing what UK Head Coach Mark Stoops called a significant amount of time.
Stoops spoke to reporters after what he called a disappointing Wednesday practice, especially for his defensive unit which he thought had made strides Tuesday. Stoops said Monday that Barker has had a recurring back injury that was exacerbated by a hit early in Saturday' night's game against New Mexico State. On Wednesday, Stoops said he felt for Barker after all the work he's put in. The decision to rest him came after seeing a specialist.
"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," said Stoops. "Again, what that is at least three, four, five weeks. At that point in time, we’ll see. 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.”
Stephen Johnson is now in charge of the offense as the Cats prepare for Saturday's meeting with South Carolina. He took over in admirable fashion for Barker in the 62-42 shootout win over the Aggies Saturday. The Junior-College transfer was 17-of-22 for 310 yards and 3 touchdowns through the air and added 51 yards on 10 carries. And perhaps just as impressive has been his cool demeanor both in taking over Saturday and throughout this week.
"He’s been like that; we’ve talked about that, just how calm he’s been since he’s been here and he certainly showed that to us last week," said Stoops. "I was asked on my call-in show today for the SEC call-in show if that surprised me. And yeah. We knew he was a good player, but I didn’t know he’d have that kind of game with those kind of numbers. You take away that first series and he was absolutely remarkable. So let’s hope he can keep that going. Either way, if he’s not perfect, we know he’ll keep his poise and operate this offense and move the offense. We have a lot of confidence in him.”
Stoops also added that true Freshman Gunnar Hoak will be preparing to play as Johnson's back-up, with transfer Luke Wright also available.
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