The problem is where to turn to fix the problem. There's no waiver wire in college football. There's no adding recruits in midseason. There's no recalling Curtis Pulley.
But the Cats have to do something. That was painfully obvious while watching the 24-17 loss to South Carolina.
On the season, Hartline is 115 of 208 passing for 1,026 yards. That means he's averaging only 8.9 yards per completion and the offense is averaging only 4.9 yards per pass attempt.
Seldom have the Cats hit big pass plays down the field to make the defense back up. That's made it hard to run, especially against Southeastern Conference foes.
So what does the Kentucky offense have to do?
"We have to get the ball to athletes in space. The thing we have been trying to do is identify who our athletes and playmakers are," said Phillips. "That is the hardest thing. We have tried to get the ball in guys' hands and they just have not made plays for us.
"We have to figure out who the playmakers are. Every week one more whets our appetite and starts to look like a playmaker and the next week he takes a step back. We are trying to find playmakers so we can get those guys on the field at the same time."
The two consistent playmakers had been receiver Dicky Lyons and running back Derrick Locke. It was obvious going into the South Carolina game that Phillips was going to ride those two. Locke had 108 yards on 15 runs and eight pass receptions. That was 50 percent of UK's offensive yardage.
Lyons had two catches for 12 yards, but he was likely lost for the season with a knee injury suffered in the first half.
Then there is freshman Randall Cobb, who missed the previous two games with an ankle injury. He had eight catches for 53 yards as a receiver and ran twice for nine yards and completed a 4-yard pass when playing quarterback.
He's faster, more elusive and more daring than Hartline. He's also untested as a passer and reading SEC defenses.
Still, one senses Cobb is going to get more and more time at quarterback.
"Randall Cobb was one of those playmakers we were looking for. Then he went down (in the Middle Tennessee game) when we had a package ready for him because he was clearly one of our better playmakers," Phillips said.
Brooks was non-committal Sunday on whether he would use Cobb at receiver, quarterback or both this Saturday against Arkansas. Obviously, the decision is complicated by Lyons' loss and Cobb's status as UK's next best option at receiver based on his 11 catches for 84 yards.
"We will just have to judge that as we go forward. He had a little conditioning problem and tweaked his good ankle (against South Carolina), but the bad ankle came out of the thing pretty well.," Brooks said. "We will have to see how he responds this week.
"We gave him a few snaps at quarterback and that could increase a little bit. We just need to find some way to move the football more consistently and put some points on the board."
What will it take to do that?
"We just have to go back to fundamentals and try to get things moving in the right direction. Obviously, a great step in that direction would be converting some third down situations, but more than that we need to start making some plays on offense," Brooks said. "It takes 11 guys on offense to execute plays. We have eight, nine or sometimes 10 guys doing a decent job and somebody messing it up, and it is not always the same person."
Still, with so few proven playmakers, the Cats are limited offensively. That's why it would seem to make sense to give Cobb more playing time at quarterback in hopes of rejuvenating the offense.
Hartline might benefit emotionally from having some pressure lifted off his shoulders. Often, it's like he's being too mechanical and afraid to take chances. Maybe watching Cobb play more would help unleash Hartline to make more plays like he did in the spring.
"We have to find some consistent playmakers. Locke and Dicky had been, but besides them there have not been any," Phillips said. "You just can't win that way.