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From Tuscaloosa to Muncie: What Is Kentucky Facing In Layne Hatcher?

(Image via Getty Images)

When Ball State takes the field against Kentucky on Saturday, it will not be Layne Hatcher's first rodeo facing a SEC defense.

The Ball State starting quarterback went up against Alabama's defense all year as a true freshman. In his first year of college football, he redshirted as a member of the Crimson Tide. Following the 2018 season, Hatcher decided he wanted to compete for a starting job and transferred to Arkansas State. This wouldn't be his last departure as he would transfer once again for the 2022 season and end up at Texas State before ultimately making his final move to Ball State for this upcoming season. In today's age, this consistent college hopping is common. Hatcher is a proven commadoity and has produced at a high level wherever he has gone. With all this in mind, what should Kentucky fans expect from the 24 -year old quarterback on Saturday?

Lets go ahead and answer that question in simple terms: You can expect a little bit of everything. He has shown throughout the years that he is not afraid to test his opponent's secondary as he ranks 12th among active CFB quarterbacks in passing yards with 10,080 in total. He has also racked up 84 touchdowns through the air during his career, while also being picked off a staggering 35 times. You have to imagine Jalen Geiger and Zion Childress are licking their chops at that number.

Stats don't tell the whole story. The most important thing the graduate brings to the table is his experience. While he didn't see the field with Alabama, he got to be in a locker room working with Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa while learning from the great Nick Saban. On the field, he has four seasons of experience as a starting quarterback. In those four seasons, he played double digit games in all of them.

With everything I have noted, I think it's safe to say that defending Ball State should not be taken lightly by Kentucky on Saturday. The defense is going to need to be hitting on all cylinders to prevent Hatcher from keeping this game too close for comfort. Conversely, there will be some opportunities to force turnovers with his tendency to put the ball up for grabs. While he isn't on the level of a Will Rogers, Joe Milton, or Spencer Rattler, it's fair to assume Brad White may still lose some sleep on Friday night.

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