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Stoops on Whitlow: “You have to be able to make that quick decision and execute it”


Mark Stoops is not putting the blame for Kentucky’s offensive woes solely on sophomore quarterback Jalen Whitlow. However, the UK coach won’t mince words, either, about the way his quarterback has played at times.

“I make no excuses for him. We missed some throws we’ve got to make (at Vanderbilt last week). We really did. We have to make those throws,” said Stoops as his team prepares to play at Georgia Saturday night.

Whitlow was just 14 of 28 passing for 120 yards with four interceptions at Vanderbilt and has struggled most of the season with consistent accuracy.

“There’s a lot of plays that we all can do better, but when we have opportunities, when we have shots and we have guys open, we have to hit some of them to win games. We’re not doing that,” Stoops said. “But I do think him getting more comfortable in the pocket, scrambling, scrambling buying time and throwing on a critical third down, scrambling and converting a third down with his legs, doing some things to help us move the chains is also important.

“He’s getting more and more comfortable with certain things and he’s doing a good job at certain things. In the execution of the pass game we need to improve, and that’s on everybody. There’s some balls out there that the wide receivers need to go and get also.”

Part of Whitlow’s problem has been not always making the right pass-run read.

“We have a run, and if there’s pressure and you know it’s coming, you’ve got to take it and throw the screen, you’ve got an opportunity for a big play,” Stoops said. “Now he’s got to do that, however long that is. There’s a very short amount of time with a bunch of guys breathing down his neck. He’s just got to understand that’s what he’s got to do. He’s got to distribute the ball where it needs to go all the time. That’ll help our offense go. We did miss a couple of those, but we are getting better in that area.

“I think those are things that get frustrating, and those are things that he’s got to be able to execute under extreme pressure, whether you’re on the road in a hostile environment with a bunch of big guys blitzing you. You have to be able to make that quick decision and execute it. It’s just like the interception. We got a little rushed and threw it a little high, and instead of making a catch, and if you look at that play, certainly if you watch it on film, we have a 10‑yard gain. Instead it’s an interception. But that’s a matter of, what, six inches? And those are things we need to execute.”

Stoops said his players are working to break old habits that don’t work.

“I see us fighting to win through the entire game last week. We didn’t make a couple plays or we have an opportunity to win. That comes to execution. We’re not perfect. We’re not there yet, but we’re getting better,” Stoops said. “I think they understand that there’s so much more to do, and there’s so much more accountability that needs to happen in all aspects of our program. I’m part of that, and our coaches are, and so is our team.”

Stoops is not used to losing like he has this year. But he knows his players don’t want to lose, either.

“Sometimes as a position coach or a coordinator you’re so locked into your own thing that you have to look at the whole team. We’ve talked about that as a staff, and we have to keep on making everybody accountable. We’re all accountable, me included,” Stoops said. “We say that to the team all the time. We’re all in this together, we’re all accountable to each other, and the mistakes we’ve got to get corrected, but you also have to point out all the good things we’re doing and they’re doing, and again,\.

“ I think it starts with an attitude. That’s always the first thing. To me that’s what’s most encouraging and we’ve got to keep on doing, that’s really maybe the first time I’ve seen that, a real tough mentality across the board, I mean, with everybody in the locker room. And that we need to have all the time.  Again, they’ve heard me talk about this. Without that you have no chance of winning. With it you give yourself an opportunity.”

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  1. RememberBillCurry

    Larry- You are obviously close to the program. I have been going to games since around 1969 when I was very young. This is about the worse QB situation that I can remember.
    I mean is P. Towles really that bad that he can’t get on the field ? Not blaming everything on Whitlow but he is a terrible passer and in my view he is even reluctant to hand off the ball to Sanders or Kemp. He’s started like 18 games now and has proven he can’t deliver when it counts. I love U K but can’t really see where this is going for the next couple of years…and before everyone bandwagons on Barker coming next year remember Towles and how nearly impossible it is to play as a first yr Freshman in the SEC at QB. Thanks Larry .

  2. RJ

    Whitlow is a tremendous athlete but he is not an instinctive QB. The difference between a good QB and work-in-progress QB is instinct. You can teach and coach skills but instinct is a whole different animal. Combine good QB’ing skills and great instinct, you get a great QB because great instinct produces good QB decisions. A good athlete with pedestrian or better QB’ing skills can play the position but without great QB instinct, he will never be a great QB. And, if you are not a great college QB, playing the position at the next level will be problematic at best. Now is the time for Whitlow to be honing his skills for the next level.

  3. RossAlaska

    I agree with RJ. Whitlow may have the talent to play at the next level, but not as a quarterback. It would be in his best interest, if he wants to play in the NFL, to switch positions next year.

  4. fanfan

    I want to see stoops and brown be perfect with the worst OL in the SEC. Whitlow has been under ungodly pressure with 300 lb nfl. guys trying to rip his head off. When he has time he’s one the best at one time completing 67% He has to be the RB and QB and sometimes WR. If Whitlow transfer UK will see what he really is and that’s a top notch top 10 QB at any level.

  5. Larry Pup

    You can’t put this all on Jalen. These coaches have had a spring and all of the fall season to develop a UK QB. They had four on the roster. Other schools and coaches do it. They delayed a decision and alternated QB’s for much too long. IMO Jalen was a better QB this year than Max, so he got the nod. If they think Jalen can’t get it done then they should have made a decision to go with another young QB a long time ago and have prepared him by now instead of putting a RS on two. It almost sounds like Coach is saying UK is losing because Jalen can’t make the throws, and can’t make quick decisions in the heat of pressure. If that is true, a change should have been made long ago. IMO some other guys need to step up and help their QB out a little too. Some of Jalen’s passes need to be caught. Hell good QB’s throw a bad pass every now and again. Jalen may not be the answer, but they concluded he was. What am I missing here? You win together and you lose together, and the talk stays in the locker room.

  6. Whitlow family

    He’s throwing Jalen under the bus to save himself. Alabama QB would look bad in this line up. Jalen should just come home to Auburn and I bet coach Malzahn knows what to do with him and won’t throw him under the bus. Jalen is a better QB than Nick Marshall

  7. running for his life

    Wow! It’s a jail break coach. Yes he should just transfer and sit a year

  8. Ira

    Some of it is on Jalen. You got to hit a simple screen. How many times have we’ve seen him throw high, to low on a screen. 4 tipped passes last game.

    The other part is on the OL. They are not good enough at pass protection. Why I don’t know. They can run block, well actually maybe I do. Our OL may not be athletic enough, constantly misread on blocking assignments.

    The reason once again, and I’ve and one or 2 others have said b4, Whitlow remains at QB he is the best option to the effect he and I’ll mark it in quotation marks this time
    “He can scramble when the pass protection breaks down, he can keep a play alive either by moving away from the pocket or taking off down field to gain yards.”

    Yes our OC is more than aware of his limitations, so does Coach Stoops, but what they do not want in either Towles or Phillips is another pocket passer to have a separated shoulder or a busted ankle like Maxwell Smith. Those 2 kids would be murdered with the way our OL plays right now in pass protection. Even with Jalen’s scrambling ability haven’t you watched in a couple of games where they had maximum pass protection in? That was with TE’s and a RB staying in to block and Jalen only having 2 WR’s to throw to and our pass protection still broke down. Our OL needed that much help.

    Max Smith, Towles, and Phillips can’t get away from that type of pressure. So you guys calling for a new QB, all you actually are doing, is calling for a season ending injury to happen ala Max Smith like his shoulder.

    Go back and listen to some of Stoops interviews, promising help is on the way for our OL.
    Get that and you may get that QB change.

    1. RJ

      At last, a sane person speaks!


    To the Whitlow family the SEC is not training ground for wanna be QB’s. Thanks JOKER!

    1. Anonymous

      Shinny…in all due respect, Coach Joker and his staff recruited Towles, a 4 or 5 star hs qb. Look where he is now. Joker actually used Towles, got him on the field, but he got hurt and that was that. He has not been the same since. The same thing would probably happen to Phillips if he were thrown in the fray this year, but we will never know now. This qb problem is not all on Joker right now, he’s gone. I agree with Ira that the UK OL has been a disaster this year. What Jalen needs is some coaching and encouragement and some WR’s to make some plays. Yeah, Jalen needs to hit the screen passes when it’s there. But he is the best UK has right now. So quit whining and coach him up.

      1. RJ

        It’s a little late to “coaching up” a QB with just a couple of games to go. That should have been done during the spring and summer. Based on game experience, Whitlow is the only game in town at this point.

  10. Little Baron

    An amazing spread of comments…
    one of the top 10 QBs in the land
    ought to go back home and replace Auburn’s QB since he is better than that QB who has led his team to a remarkable season
    some reasonable comments

    Whitlow never was, never will be, cannot be, but wants to be “trained up” to be a major college QB. Just a fact.

    Ira has really hit a nerve, the one which keeps sending a lot of pain through the UK team and fans… OL cannot or will not or does not want to or does not know how to block for a passer. Maybe we need a new OL coach… maybe not… I really don’t know, but surely SOMEONE on our team could have been moved to the OL in Spring and August practices and been able to get the job done well enough to play a REAL QB for a big part of a game.

    Nick Marshall, beware… your job is in jeopardy.

  11. Cris

    On the Kentucky roster is an extremely talented Highlands quarterback and wide receiver who set state and national records. Although highly advised not to, they came to Kentucky to play for their home state program. The information in your article is simply unbelievable, time to reevaluate two guys futures.

  12. Gene T.

    After reading and agreeing with most of the comments, I think we all know what we need. Better talent! I’m not saying our QB’s can’t get it done. We just need better talent around them. We are moving in the right direction. Joker didn’t leave us in the best shape at some positions. We all knew this year was going to be about what it is, unless you just don’t know football. We have to give our Coaches time. I know we all want to win now, but I see a lot of improvement. In the early stages of rebuilding a program, the wins don’t always show how much we have improved. Help is on the way, and we don’t need fans running off potential recruits with negative comments. GO CATS!

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