Kentucky Football: Time To Stop The Merry-go-round At Quarterback

Time to move Jalen Whitlow to wide receiver. - John Sommers II

Mark Stoops wants to stabilize the quarterback situation. So do I.

For several weeks now, we have seen growing angst (I refuse to call it "hand wringing," but it's close) from the coaching staff about the quarterback situation. It's very clear now, if it wasn't two weeks ago, that they strongly prefer one quarterback. That is for good reason; historically, teams with two quarterbacks have struggled unless the second was used mostly in special situations. We have seen that scenario succeed with Tim Tebow at Florida and Randall Cobb here at Kentucky.

Now, I must include a mandatory disclaimer: I haven't coached one minute of college football. Mark Stoops and Neil Brown have forgotten more about college football in the last five seconds than I'll probably ever know. But I am a fan of the game, and I write this as a fan.

First of all, I think it's clear now, if it wasn't before, that the offense is sputtering as much because it is unsure of it's identity as any other reason. Is it the Air Raid? Is it a spread option? Is it some kind of hybrid? I'm not sure anybody knows.

Now, I'll be the first to say that you often have to adjust your offense to fit your personnel. It's safe to say that Kentucky's personnel is not well suited to the Air Raid right now. The Wildcats have too few wide receivers, are unsettled at quarterback, and have a deep stable of decent running backs. With that said, it's time to go with either a true Air Raid attack or some kind of run-heavy approach. I prefer the Air Raid, and to blazes with the personnel misfit.

I have proposed before, and am proposing now, that it's time to do away with the dual-headed quarterback of Jalen Whitlow and Maxwell Smith. We need Whitlow on the field, and he needs to be there at wide receiver. This solves two big needs the Wildcats currently have — more depth at wide receiver, and another big, athletic receiver which Kentucky currently lacks. The lack of size on the outside has really hurt UK at times, and if it had been Whitlow in the end zone instead of the much smaller Javess Blue on Saturday, that pass interception likely would not have happened, and may even have been caught for a touchdown.

So if Whitlow were moved, it solves two big problems right away, but creates another one — Smith is very vulnerable at QB due to his injured shoulder. One good hit, and he might be out. But to my mind, that's what we have Patrick Towles for.

Towles is considered in the throes of a redshirt season, but if so, that means that he's trapped at Kentucky or will be forced down to Division II football if he decides to transfer, because the QB position will be really crowded next season. I think it's better if Towles just moves to the backup position behind Smith, and if Smith goes down, you still have Whitlow to fall back on for your backup to Towles. It isn't as if Whitlow is going to forget how to run the QB position if he moves to receiver.

I think this helps the team in several ways, some of which I've addressed, but let's recap quickly:

  • It gives us another big receiver (Whitlow) we currently lack;
  • It stabilizes the quarterback situation;
  • It gives Towles a chance to play and not use his redshirt, giving him more options, which I think he deserves;
  • We can still use Whitlow in special situations, wildcats, and so on;
  • It puts people in positions where they are most likely to succeed going forward.

Now, I know that Whitlow has a lot to recommend him as a quarterback, but not so much as an Air Raid quarterback. I know that some are of the opinion that we are just trying to muddle through until Drew Barker shows up, but the reality is that Barker is unlikely to be our savior as a freshman in the SEC. Let's put Smith, Towles and Whitlow in positions where they are best able to succeed going forward.

Yes, this could possibly decrease the chances of winning initially, but honestly, I think we have to recognize that we are unlikely to win more than three or four games this year, if that. The minor adjustment setback isn't likely to affect that significantly.

So that's where I stand on the issue. I doubt it will happen, but speaking purely for myself, and as a fan, that's what I think should be done.

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