It wasn’t long ago that Lynn Bowden was catching passes for Kentucky.
In fact, the junior is still listed as a wide receiver on the team’s website. But after injuries to Terry Wilson and Sawyer Smith, Bowden switched to quarterback and helped lead the Wildcats to a 24-20 win over Arkansas on Oct. 12, throwing for 78 yards and running for 196 yards. The SEC named him Co-Offensive Player of the Week for his performance.
He probably won’t light up Georgia’s secondary for a ton of passing yards, but he throws just enough to keep a defense off balance, Bulldogs’ head coach Kirby Smart said.
“It becomes harder to defend him because you let the pass creep out of your mind and then he hits two or three big passes,” Smart said.
In Georgia’s loss to South Carolina on Oct. 12, South Carolina had to play its own third string quarterback, Dakereon Joyner, when Ryan Hilinski went down with a sprained knee in the third quarter. Joyner represented more of a mobile threat, running for 28 yards.
It didn’t appear Georgia had a “spy” dedicated to stopping Joyner in case he scrambled, but senior defensive lineman David Marshall said Georgia will use an outside linebacker as a quarterback spy on Bowden.
“It’s hard because he’s a mobile quarterback,” Marshall said. “He knows how to throw the ball and run the ball when he doesn’t have a wide receiver open. We just have to contain him in the pocket.”
Bowden is far from clueless on how to run an offense. As a quarterback his senior year in high school, he threw for 1,366 yards, rushed for 2,277 yards and accumulated 57 total touchdowns.
He was ranked as the No. 5 athlete in the class of 2017, according to the 247Sports Composite. At Kentucky, he returns punts and kickoffs and has 1,415 career receiving yards.
Georgia’s pass defense ranks sixth in the SEC and has been susceptible to the big play. If it manages to shut down Bowden, Smith could be an option for the Wildcats. He didn’t play against Arkansas due to shoulder and wrist injuries, but head coach Mark Stoops said Smith is “much further along.”
If Smith is healthy enough to play, Georgia cornerback Eric Stokes might have to face Bowden as a wide receiver, which would be a challenge, he said.
“He’s real good at 50-50 balls,” Stokes said. “He would go up and grab the ball up in the air. He’s a dog. He’s going to fight for everything.”
What if Bowden plays quarterback?
“A dog is a dog,” Stokes said. “He’s going to be a dog regardless.”