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Newton feels no added bowl pressure

By LARRY VAUGHT

Morgan Newton laughs when he thinks about this time last year when he would have been playing high school basketball and maybe finding time to watch a college football bowl game or two.
He even only watched the second half of Kentucky’s win over East Carolina in the Liberty Bowl.
Now he’s preparing to lead the Wildcats in the Dec. 27th matchup against Clemson in the Music City Bowl in Nashville after starting the final seven regular-season games following an injury to Mike Hartline.
“Any practice is good for me. Anytime in the film room or meetings is good for me. I am learning a lot as we go. Things that happen in practice now, there is no way I could have done some of the same things at the beginning of the year,” said Newton. “I am a better quarterback now than I was yesterday. That is the exciting thing. And hopefully I will be a better quarterback in the Music City Bowl than I was in any other game.”
Even having Hartline trying to come back from his October knee injury and resuming practice has not been a distraction for Newton, who has already been named the bowl game starter by coach Rich Brooks.
“It is good having Mike back on the practice field. He has been around. I am not sure if it is a difference between when he is in the training room or out here because he always tries to help me,” Newton said.
“The big thing is I can learn from Mike every day. He has been around a long time along with Will (Fidler). Also spending time with coach (Joker) Phillips and coach (Randy) Sanders is very important for my development.
“I try to think that I can push myself and am able to push myself and make myself better, but having guys like Mike and Will behind you that are going to push you as well and having a coach in your ear all practice, that helps you grow as a player.”
Don’t worry about Newton, who is 62-for-112 passing for 608 yards and five scores, succumbing to the pressure of trying to lead UK to a historic fourth straight bowl win, either.
“To be honest, I do not really feel any pressure. There are a lot of people around here who have more pressure than what I do,” Newton said. “I watch a guy like  (UK freshman basketball player) John Wall. If he doesn’t play the way he plays every day, then they are going to be on his back just like they are everybody else.
“The pressure on me is not that bad. I feel more pressure with a big defensive linemen after me than what I put on myself.”
He does acknowledge that the bowl game is once again a way for UK to jump start its 2010 season, but he also knows what the game means to Kentucky’s seniors.
“For the seniors, it is the end to a college career. Some will go on to NFL, but for a lot it is the end,” Newton, who has rushed for two scores, said. “For freshmen and guys like myself, every day is the beginning for hopefully another brighter day. I think of this as being the last time to play with the seniors, but also getting ready and practicing with the guys I will play with the next couple of years.”
Newton’s season has had more ups and downs than a roller coaster at Kings Island. He thought he could start, then was on the verge of being redshirted. He led UK to big wins at Auburn and Georgia, but also lost home games to Mississippi State and Tennessee.
“I figured it would be a matter of time before I would play and that is the way you  have to look at it or you will be surprised when you get the opportunity. I think I look back and there are a lot of small things that I would change to be in the position I am now,” Newton said.
“I have grown a lot as person and player the last couple of months. There are ups and downs, but that’s life. I just have to learn how to deal with it.
“The main thing is making sure you take everything one play at a time and take advantage of every opportunity you are getting. That is what I have tried to do here. I just try to get better every day because that’s what I have to do to help us win this game.”

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7 comments

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  1. BarryRussell

    Great article Larry about another young UK freshman with a very mature attidue and promising outlook. I look forward being at the frozen Music City Bowl field Sunday to watch a very talented UK football team take on Clemson. GO CATS!!

  2. gmoyers

    Dress warm and come on down. It should be an entertaining game. And you are very, very right about Morgan

  3. seank

    Either he’s a great actor or the guy has Ice water in his veins.I can’t wait to see him develop the next three years.He understands what it means to the Seniors to win this game but also looks to the future with his fellow underclassmen.Sounds like a Great youngster!!

  4. gmoyers

    He really is. Still think he can be special. Has a lot of the same qualities as Cobb

  5. Gene

    Will be extremely interesting watching Newton and Mossakowski(sp?) compete for the starting spot next year.
    I can see Hartline in the mix but also see him as the “first man out” should either of the young guys show SEC ability.
    From everything I’ve read Mossakowski is more of a drop back, proto-typical NFL type while Newton tries to be the run/pass type.
    To be blunt I haven’t seen the running ability in Newton that he apparently had in high school but then the SEC ain’t high school : )
    Should be an interesting spring practise.

  6. gmoyers

    Fair points Gene and spring practice should really be fun to watch

  7. Paul

    Yes, very good stuff on Newton. Truth be told, most every one of our guys seems to have a similar good and positive attitude. But you, Larry, have seen it up close and have a better perspective than the rest of us. Thanks for the good insight here.

    What is Dabo Sweeney and the rest of the Clemson group talking about with this game. Is it the usual “they are a really good football team” kind of thing or are there any surprising nuggets out of the Tigers’ camp? I have not looked into it at all but would be interested to hear if there’s anything worth passing along.

    Also Larry, the next time you are in the presence of either Coach Brooks or Coach Brown, consider asking about whether the MSU game plan and LOSS this past year has figured in any way into the prep for the bowl game. I just want to make sure they all remember and I’m not certain they can do it on their own…

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