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Whitlow shows toughness, leadership but Cats make too many mistakes in 48-17 loss


LEXINGTON — Question his execution, but don’t question Kentucky quarterback Jalen Whitlow’s toughness. At least not after the way he hung in here Saturday in UK’s 48-17 loss to No. 9 Missouri.

Coach Mark Stoops had questioned Whitlow’s toughness earlier this season, but he did not let a swarming Missouri defense or painful left shoulder — at times he had trouble getting up off the ground after taking a hit — keep him from running the offense. He led three drives of 70-plus yards, ran for 44 yards and one score, and threw for 225 yards.

Stoops said he noticed that Whitlow played with more toughness.

“He had some tough runs against tough, physical defense,” said Stoops. “It was nice to see. You could tell he was hurting. He is learning to compete. I thought he did some good things. He led our team good. We need to improve, but we need to play better around him.”

But does playing in pain give him more credibility/leadership with teammates?

“I think so. It does,” Stoops said.

Whitlow admitted he was in pain. His left shoulder hurt, especially after hits. He acknowledged at times he had trouble even getting up. At times his left wrist hurt. Late in the game, his ankle — he hurt that against Alabama — flared up again.

“We respect him a lot,” receiver Demarco Robinson said. “He went out to help his team and stayed out there. We just have to do more to help him.”

Whitlow helped UK (2-7) amass 204 of its 369 total yards in the third quarter. He finished a 73-yard touchdown drive with a 1-yard run, completed a 40-yard pass to Raymond Sanders and had a 6-yard run to set up Sanders’ 1-yard score to cap a 75-yard play.

“We just came out on fire in the third quarter, but we have to do that more,” Whitlow said as he held his wrist. “We should do what we did in the third quarter all the time. I am not discouraged by any means. We’ve just got to get better.”

Offensive coordinator Neal Brown knew Whitlow got better and he appreciated the pain Whitlow played through most of the game.

“I think he showed a lot of guts,” Brown said. “We challenged them all at halftime, him included. That first half was as bad a half as we’ve played. We played hungry football the third quarter and he was the catalyst. This offense is starving for somebody to be a leader and I am proud of how he competed.”

Leadership comes slowly. The soft-spoken Whitlow is not a screamer, and not overly emotional.

“It’s always good for the quarterback to be the leader and I am working on being more vocal,” Whitlow said. “I am not one to scream at guys. I think that is overrated. I am not one to get in a guy’s face. I prefer just to lay it all on the line.”

Sanders said he sees Whitlow’s leadership improving, and it will keep getting better.

“He does struggle with being vocal, but he’s only a sophomore. It is growing on him. As the years go on, he’ll be fine as a leader. He had a great game today and he’ll continue to grow as a leader,”  Sanders said.

But it takes more than just toughness and leadership, even from a quarterback, to beat the nation’s No. 9 team and Kentucky simply self-destructed too many times.

— UK drove 76 yards on its first possession, but couldn’t get into the end zone after getting a first down inside the 10-yard line and had to settle for a field goal and 3-0 lead.

— Landon Foster shanked a punt 13 yards to set Missouri up for only a 39-yard scoring drive on its first touchdown. But that was not as bad as getting his next punt blocked inside the UK 5 to set up an even easier score.  “He just shanked that. No excuse for that. Then we got the one bocked. That wasn’t his fault,” Stoops said.

— Trailing 21-3, Kentucky recovered a fumbled punt into the Missouri 10, but the play was negate by an illegal formation penalty on UK on the punt. “That was a huge turnaround,” Brown said.

— After driving 73 yards to score to start the second half and cut the gap to 28-10, UK held Missouri and then Whitlow hit Sanders for a 40-yard pass completion. However, Sanders fumbled — “He has to hold on to the ball,” Stoops said — at the end of the play and and Missouri scored to go up 35-10. Kentucky had not lost a turnover since Sept. 28 against Florida.

— UK drove 75 yards to score and make it 35-17 late in period three only to give up a 62-yard kickoff return and then was called for a personal foul on Missouri’s first play. On fourth-and-three at the Kentucky 7-yard line, Missouri quarterback Maty Mauck picked on UK cornerback Nate Willis again for a score and 41-17 lead.

“We had some tough matchups,” Stoops said. “It wasn’t a great effort by us. It wasn’t. I may get frustrated, but I am not discouraged. We will get it done.”

Permanent link to this article: http://vaughtsviews.com/whitlow-shows-toughness-leadership-but-cats-make-too-many-mistakes-in-48-17-loss/


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  1. RJ

    Playing hurt does not mean you are playing tough. It just means you are playing hurt. Whitlow was almost defenseless at times.There’s a difference between playing through a little pain and playing hurt. If Stoops is that kind of coach, I’ve lost a lot of respect for him. These kids are not getting paid $millions to play football for UK.

    Meanwhile back at the game (now back at my hotel treating the wind burn). When is UK ever going to fire Joker Phillips? Oh, sorry you mean he has already been fired and replaced with a staff that is going to have an entertaining offense……….. I couldn’t tell the difference.

    Just because we are challenged in the talent department does not excuse playing stupid and reckless. I’m certain he is telling his players that as we speak. Too many offensive mistakes and zero defense. This defense couldn’t get a team off the field with an invitation to an all expense paid week in Tahiti. My 10 year old grandson could have run through some of those holes.

    Well. These are Joker’s players true enough so we should give Stoops a pass of sorts. Next year they’re Stoops players!

    1. larryvaught

      RJ, love your posts but give these coaches/kids a chance. So many mismatches on the field. Going to take more than two recruiting classes to correct that talent deficit and if you think Kentucky should be throwing 50 times a game, you apparently have not watched the UK quarterbacks throw compared to say the ones at South Carolina, Missouri, etc

      1. john4uk

        Have to agree RJ on this one.Being able to play with pain,or trying to prove you are tough doesn’t equate to talent.And this UK team is really hurting for talent on bith sides of the line.Throw that in with some questionable play calling ,offensive and defensive scheming,and player selection gives you have a recipe for defeat.

        Here’s hoping the ship can be fixed in the future because things sure don’t look too good now.

        1. RJ

          Larry: You’re absolutely right – as usual. But, I know these coaches preach fundamentals but it just never seems to sink in. Look at the Air Force Academy. Talk about short on talent. But they always seem to be in the game. Why, they play smart. Oh well. I’ve been beating my head against a wall for darn near 50 years now waiting for KY to come up with a winning program. Maybe next year.

  2. RJ

    A short footnote: Down 21 points late in the third QTR and we run the ball on three consecutive series? Someone other than Brown must be calling the plays.

  3. Winchester

    That wasn’t Phillips on the sideline ?

  4. cats79

    There you again RJ bashing the football team again. You always want to put your two scents word out as usual .

  5. Winchester

    Uk’s offense was facing a poor to average Missouri defense. They have given up a lot of points for a ranked team. When ky gets a real passing QB in the game and uses their running back to run the ball not the QB they will do better. They should look for the type of receivers (on the high school level) that Payton manning and Brady have in the pros. Reliable with good hands not flashy types. Stoops is recruiting like Florida St did and the ones he has comitted to uk will be thugs not all but most. Mark it down. Uk will have the same type as fla st and Florida and Tennessee . In trouble with the law. Stoops learned it from the fla st head coaches. The tv comontators are kissing whitlows rump. Why I don’t know. Could be PC.

    1. stephen

      Winchester, if you are going to bash the program, the current players AND the coaching staff….could you do so with some semblance of intelligence and validity? I used to worry the potential recruits considering UK would read this crap and be turned off by the negativism of our fan base. However, I am now resolved to the fact they are more intelligent than that… and the bashers.
      If you are going to bash…at least write something that makes sense AND know how to spell!!

      1. Anonymous

        Well Stephen you got me on the spelling. I don’t know if recruits read these type sites or not . I don’t know how old you are, but I go back to John ray as far as keeping up with uk football. I’ve seen the players and coaches through the years. I’m has had their problem boys also but not like the schools I mentioned earlier. Stoops was with Fla state and you should have noticed the type player they got and have over the years. He was ingrained in that system. Based on what I have seen so far that’s what uk will have. Why would it be any different at uk? But we will see. This win at any cost is ruining college sports. Stephen, all we heard was Air Raid, but for the most part it’s been more of a kite flying contest with just a little wind and a lackluster ground game attempt. Now with the type of players manning and Brady have in the pros they are sure handed and run good routes. Sure they are pros but they were college and high school at one time. Uk has had receivers drop or just not catch passes this season that should have been caught. You tell me why a good QB would want to come here if they see a whitlow playing with good passing talent on the bench.uk had Shane Boyd a few years back and they have Shane boyyd ll now. The coaches make the decisions and have to live with it. Why are they not going after talent east of I 75 in state? Don’t know but it’s there for someone who wants good player who are not a thug. You wait and see trouble on the way. Now if it sand papers you then you’ll have to skip my comments . I wouldn’t worry too much about recruits reading this. They will watch or read the sports on sports south or ESPN or what ever version they have.

        1. larryvaught

          Just got to find a way to improve everywhere, not just quarterback

          1. Winchester


        2. Stephen

          I go back to Charlie Bradshaw.

          Yes, all you heard was Air Raid….but from whom…and in what context? It has been my impression from day one that Brown’s version of that offense was what we should EXPECT…but I don’t recall anyone promising we would see it in the version we were all used to seeing with Mumme. Additionally, I don’t believe anyone on the staff promised it in its entirety THIS year. Brown stated from the get go that for it to work we needed at least 10 receivers…no where near the numbers Joker left. It is also my understanding that speed is necessary in this system…and not just speed on the field on every play…but speed in getting the play OFF!! Now the 10 receiver quota Brown says he needs makes sense….keep them rotating and keep them fresh! Get it?

          Look, the guys that were leftovers from last year were not recruited for Brown’s system…and the same goes for the defense…they were recruited for Minter and company’s scheme. These guys aren’t bad players…they just are not a fit for what we are trying to do. It takes time!! It takes patience! It takes a commitment that EVERYONE has to buy into!! Will Stoops and company be the ones to FINALLY get it done?? How the hell do I know? I go back to BRADSHAW, remember?

          What I do know is those are KIDS out there…not pros. Those kids are playing for THEIR school… playing for pride….AND playing for US!! It’s not their fault for this…I FULLY BELIEVE they are trying…I SEE effort! They deserve our support until ample time has passed to bring in the right players for the respective offensive and defensive schemes of this staff. If that time comes and goes and THIS staff can’t get it done…”next man up”! But until then, THIS staff, THESE players AND the INCOMING recruits DESERVE and will have the support from THIS season ticket holder and fan!

          Go Cats!!

  6. Ira

    Got news for a bunch of you Mizzou’s D is and was better than most of you thought. Exactly what I was worried about was their pass rush. They get after the QB and our very avg OL wasn’t up to pass protection many a time.

    Noticed Whitlow at times if he wasn’t being sacked, but if he felt any type of hurry, didn’t want to step into the pocket and throw to his outlet WR. He was open a lot. He either tried to take off immediately and got dropped for loss, or rushed a throw and missed WR’s again. Seen Brown giving him an earful on more than one occasion.

    We are stuck with Whitlow for the remainder of the season. The one’s who want to gripe don’t know what to tell you. For the rest of us, we gotta bare down and gut it out.

    Barker I feel, once he enrolls in Jan, he will get the play book. Go thru spring drills and game. If he picks this offense up over the summer, I suspect him and Phillips fight it out for the starting QB position. We will have our Air Raid then, until then bare down and take it folks. Might as well. It’s almost over.

  7. gogettem

    I see Barker Barker. Tell me what could he do better than Whitlow did out there under duress. Barker will get killed if he played. Whitlow should transfer

  8. Ira


    Well for one Barker plays in an offense that is similar to the Air Raid. Two Barker is an Elite 11 QB that is coming out of HS. While that doesn’t mean as much in college, it does mean he can throw the ball accurately. Three he’ll go thru spring practice and the spring game and have the summer to learn this offense. Plus have fall practice to see if he can win the starting position. Five, I’m tired of coming up with anymore but there are

  9. Larry Pup

    Yeah it was another ugly loss, and yes the year has been a disaster for UK football, but some of you band wagon jumpers should be ashamed of yourselves for the comments you have made here today. You sound like a bunch of stinking cry babies to me. You know who you are too. If you don’t like these coaches and our team, go find one you can, and quit all the belly aching. Losing is bad enough without having to listen to some of you destroy the team and coaches with negative comments. UK does not have the talent yet, plain and simple.

    1. Kokamo Joe

      Now is not the time to get down on the coaches. They simply do not have the talent to compete with teams like Missouri. To be honest they won’t have the talent to compete with most SEC teams next year either, but there should be a couple of wins as the talent that they do have matures and some freshmen step up.

      I would suggest that the complainers ease off for the rest of this year and next year.

      If Stoops has not made this team competitive by his third or fourth year I would tell the complainers to have at. At that time it will be time to complain if this team still is competing for the dishonor of being the hind teat in the SEC.

      A key ingredient in a good sports programs is the fan who goes beyond cheerleading. If criticism is deserved criticism should be heaped on a loser. But I cannot see criticizing a coaching staff in the first stage of a rebuilding effort.

      1. Stephen

        Well said Kokamo Joe!

      2. cats79

        I’m glad i’m not the only one notice the negative comments that’s been made to the football team.

  10. Little Baron


    Many interesting observations and comments. It does make one wonder why Kemp has the best average and gets so few carries… FAR less than the running QB… Our running game will never develop into a threat until we can also pass the ball more effectively and down field.


    OK… it will not be on the grid iron, but on the hardwood! The #1 rated UK basketball team is a couple of days away from a challenge from an experienced #2 team… and freshmen will indeed be leading UK on the hardwood, even a freshmen “QB” who missed a lot of pre-season including the summer & recently the exhibition games.

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