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If Whitlow was not ready to play, should coaches be more responsible for getting him ready


Why did Kentucky coach Joker Phillips wait so long to go to freshman quarterback Jalen Whitlow Saturday?

It was obvious to everyone, or should have been, that Morgan Newton was struggling with his accuracy. He was doing his best. Remember, he’s coming off shoulder surgery, lost the starting job to Maxwell Smith and has been working at other positions part of the time this season.

Yet for three quarters, Phillips — and UK fans — watched Newton struggle and Whitlow stand and watch.

“It’s a tough place to ask a true freshman to come in. We decided we were going to give him (Newton) one more series and then they scored, so we decided to give him one more and by that time it was out of hand, late in the game. He’s going to be a good quarterback. Again, this is a tough environment to come into and play as a true freshman. We’ll get Max back and we’ll try to get Jalen ready to be our No. 2 full time,” Phillips said.

Try to get him ready? Aren’t coaches paid to get players ready?

Phillips admitted Newton wasn’t “very accurate” with his throws? Could Whitlow have done any better?

“Again, it wasn’t very accurate. Again, for us to be successful offensively in this offense, you have to be able to throw and catch and we didn’t today,” Phillips said of his team’s quarterback play.

So who is No. 2 behind Smith now?

Phillips says UK has “been trying that” in reference to getting Whitlow at No. 2.

“It’s been the intention. It’s been the intention since we decided to move him up. The intention was to get him to be the No. 2 guy,” Phillips said.

Hopefully soon the intention will also be to give him a chance to be No. 2 in a game if needed as well.

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  1. Jim

    From my perspective, the coaches make the players adapt to a complicated, difficult to master offensive system. I am not a highly paid D1 college coach, but if I were, I would adapt my system to the players that I have on the team.

    I will give Sanders and Joker all the credit in the world for adapting and beating UT, last season with a receiver as QB. But, that was because they had no other QB to throw out there. This pre season, they knew they had a QB that would not be effective, because of an injury and only had one other QB with game experience. Given the injuries that happened last season to the QB corps, one would think that they would have their Parade All American (Towles) and Whitlow ready with offensive plays that they could execute. So what if those freshman aren’t ready to apply the Pythagorean theorem on the field. Give them a simple system, so they can function, if your starter is knocked out of the game.

  2. JCC

    I also remember Joker saying that if Smith was not ready he would go with Newton next week. Makes little sinse to me. I firmly believe that Coach Sanders is a very good QB coach…one of the best, but how much say does he have when it comes to who goes in during a game? The way Newton was playing yesterday could JW really do any worse? I agree that the coaches did not have any QB ready to play but Smith. Joker said that they did not make the decision on Smith until Thursday, but don’t you think he had to have some idea that Max would not be able to go, and he should get both guys ready to play!

  3. TheProfessor

    1. Any football coach that considers Morgan Newton a legitimate D1 quarterback is delusional after last season alone.
    2. The chatter around these parts for the entire off season was about how close the quarterback competition was between Smith and Newton. After yesterday, that chatter is proven laughable, if not delusional and sad.
    3. Given 1 and 2, then any ordering of quarterback depth for this season that has Newton ahead of Whitlow, in terms of practice preparation for game day readiness also demonstrates no ability to plan for game day, much less the future.

    Last year, prior to the first game of the year, when all the talk was how ready Morgan Newton is, and how excited Coach Phillips was in his anticipation for Newton’s impact, ESPN sent a crew to UK to go behind the scenes and interview and film. When that segment aired the week before the opening game, one feature of the segment was Morgan Newton, attempting a long pass toward a receiver in the end zone. That pass sailed so far over the receiver’s head that it actually left the entire practice facility.

    While it appeared from the film that some on camera tried to make light of the heave, including Morgan Newton, but I saw that event as a huge warning, and even yesterday, when receivers are wide open, ready to make big plays, his passes sailed over their heads, uncatchable for the most part. To his credit yesterday, Morgan finally seemed to realize that his passes were being over thrown, and the last half dozen misses were so obviously thrown into the ground at the feet of our receivers. Well, the passes were not uncatchable because the kids needed to climb a ladder, but they were still uncatchable.

    And this is the best UK has to offer at quarterback when it has 3 of the brightest quarterback prospects on the same team, Smith, Whitlow, and Towles, as I can remember.

    This is so sad to me, because in my opinion, Joker Phillips provides this program its best hope for the future, IF the University ever decides it would like to support a real SEC football program.

    1. RJ

      I would agree with you on everything except Joker Phillips. He just has not gotten it done and his decision making seems very very odd at the best. Maybe it’s not his fault and in a better Univeristy situation he might succeed but he’s just not firing on all eight cylinders.

  4. Alex J

    Randy Sanders was not good at Tennessee and he is not good at KY. Q-back coach and offensive coordinator he is not. A blind man could see atfer two series that Newton could not hit the side of a wall. I hated to see the effort wasted yesterday by the team due to lack of direction and the first half there was good effort from both D and O

    1. jcc

      I am not a big fan of this coaching staff as a whole however with all due respect Coach Sanders is considered by his peers as one of the best QB coaches in the business.

  5. Jim Boyers

    I am not a coach, nor have I played one on TV, but I agree with the Professor that the problems are very deep and Morgan has shown NO signs of being a D1 QB. I really hate to rip any player because they are trying their hardest, but Morgan has NEVER exhibited any kind of passing touch. Every pass is thrown at full, bullet-like speed. He has no feather touch, to get it over a defender or accuracy to lace it into the chest of a covered receiver. I don’t know how that problem hasn’t been addressed.

    I too think Joker can be the future, with the proper backing. That is not to say that his deficiencies aren’t many, but they are not insurmountable, with time and experience as THE program leader.

    As far as preparedness goes, I have just nine words: DELAY OF GAME ON THE FIRST PLAY OF OVERTIME. Nuff said. There IS no excuse for things like that.

  6. Reynold Moreland

    Season is over already which is tough for the players when you know there is nothing to play for. Sad part is the defense really didnt play that bad in the first half, when was the last time UK’s defense had a pick of a Fla QB in Fla? Then turn right around and the offense gives up a TD. That has to be demoralizing for a defense. I am sure Joker is a nice guy I am sure Newton is a good kid. I blame Joker for putting Newton in a position to fail. As far as Joker is concerned, I have worked with nice guys who couldnt do their job and as a result ended up unemployed. Just becasue someone is a good person does not mean they are doing their job or should keep it. Fans can complain all they want but until the AD decides to do something about it the complaining will not help. I really do hate it for the kids but the only thing that will get Barnharts attention are empty seats and loss of revenue. Everyone (including the kids on this team) has to understand this must be ran like a business & if you are not doing your job things must change. It is like the announcer said yesterday if all you have is freshman and they are better than the upperclassmen then you have to play to win now, joker doesnt get that or much of anything else, tired of hearing excuses.

  7. TheProfessor

    “It’s tough,” Newton said. “Over my career it seems like its (always) inopportune. Bad timing. Bad situations. Bad circumstances. You know, post-Randall Cobb, post-Chris Matthews, but pre-(DeMarcus) Sweat, pre-Demarco (Robinson) and all of these other guys. It’s just been tough and it makes me look like a much worse player than I really am but that’s kind of how life goes.”

    Does anyone remember when a young, and struggling Mike Hartline reacted to his demotion from starting quarterback in deference to Morgan Newton (a freshman at the time), he made remarks quoted in the press about his receivers not making plays, and he takes the fall? The criticism of Hartline for that immature statement followed him for the rest of his collegiate career, and I saw one “fan” cite the quote as recently as this past off season.

    I have yet to read any harsh reaction to Morgan Newton’s statement following yesterday’s debacle of a game. First, if he isn’t throwing his receivers under the bus, I don’t understand the point of his statement. Second, at least in Hartline’s case, his receivers were letting him down, dropping pass and pass that were delivered to the hands and bread basket. Third, Newton’s receivers, by and large, are getting passes in their direction that require them to carry portable ladders as they run their routes.

    Why no outrage?

    Isn’t one mark of a leader the ability to make those around him better than they otherwise would be? Doesn’t it sound like Newton is disappointed because he does not have leaders around him to make him better than he otherwise can be?

    Leadership Lesson 101 (b).

    1. RJ

      No outrage bacause it’s the coach’s who put him in the position and kept him there. No one is going to blame Newton for yesterday because there was not reason to expect him to perform any different than he has up to this point at QB. Anyone who have ever seen a football game knew the Newton was never going to be a star at QB. Everyone is saying that Joker is stupid for leaving him in there but I think it goes deeper.

      Newton has always been Joker’s boy for some unknown reason. I can think of a few but cannot articulate them here because they would suggest something far more troubling about Joker than I care to delve into. Many of the recruiting articles that were out and about during MN’s coming to KY and several afterward suggested a very cosy relationship with Joker and the Newton family. Maybe it’s nothing or maybe it is, I do not know. But you have to admit, when it comes to playing Newton at QB, Joker Phillips has demonstrated an extreme amount of tunnel vision.

  8. big tim

    it really nobody fault they could of played max could get injured worse, say they played the freshman and thing went bad you could ruin he confidence or you can play newton who know the offense and whose been in that position before. who you know can handle it mentally. plus if withlow gets injured in that game you would have to pull towles redshirt

  9. Jimcats

    This is another sad demonstration of the pathetic lack of foresight and prepartion by Joker and his staff. Any knowledgeable person could see that poor coaching and planning is a much bigger problem than the youth of the players.

  10. Bill

    This coaching staff seems to have their hands full getting the first team ready, much less a back up quarterback. Case in point, Whitlow didn’t play until late in the win over Kent State. He needs practice and game speed reps to be prepared to be a true back up.

  11. Andy

    This falls on the coaching staff. They should have been getting Whitlow ready as no 2 the whole time. I don’t get this attraction to MN that he would be a good back up because clearly he cannot throw the ball deep or short. Least Whitlow can use his legs. Bad preparation by the coaching staff. Morgan should be a blocking TE.

  12. P90XDude

    This coaching staff does not know how to get a team ready; does not know how to utililze their players and they all should be let go at the end of the season.

  13. jcc

    His peers consider Randy Sanders one of the best QB coaches in the business. Anyone who believes otherwise although they deserve an opinion is mistaken.

  14. Jackie

    …if Morgan Newton takes one more snap as QB at UK, I will assume it is because ALL 3 of the other QBs are unavailable. This guy is NOT a QB; Randall Cobb was more of a QB than he is.

  15. MickintheHam

    So, why can’t “one of the best QB coaches in the business” get two Quarterbacks ready to play. With the history of injuries to Smith and Newton, it is not exactly out of the realm of logical thinking to believe someone else needs to be prepared to play at all times. Fact of the matter appears to be that our coaches just expected Newton to be able to step up to what he was being asked to do, even though he had been carrying out other responsibilities in practice. It’s noble of you to defend Randy Sanders. He’s a nice guy. Unfortunately he is still part of a staff that has no effective plan for the Quarterback position. It takes an effective durable quarterback to play in the SEC. We seem to have two freshmen who might fill the bill, but have done nothing other the give one of them a short package of plays to run. This is like living on the Gulf Coast with no Hurricane evacuation plan. If Randy is not responsible for that, it must be his boss.

  16. JCC

    Its like the greatest sprinter in the world trying to teach a 300lb lineman to run the 40 in 4.3. It is just not going to happen. Coach Sanders has done a great job with Max Smith just like he did with Peyton Manning, Tee Martin, Andre Woodson and Mike Hartline.
    It is unfortunate that Joker has decided to throw all his apples in one basket with Smith. Jalen Whitlow got all the second team snaps last week and in the end it was Jokers call to go with Morgan Newton. It would be very difficult for any coach to get someone ready in that situation especially when the individual is not a QB!

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