First off, Kentucky Football's Blue-White game was a great experience on Saturday. Given the state of our program and the lack of interest the game usually generates, the turnout was amazing. Props to UK and Coach Stoops for not only hyping the event, but for the shrewd move to distribute actual game tickets with assigned seats through Ticketmaster. It seemed to pay off, as a tangible ticket with a nominal handling charge convinced many to circle the date on their calendars when they may not have otherwise.
Jalen Whitlow, who seems to be one of those kids you can never count out, is getting rightful praise for his play in the game. The UK Internet is abuzz with calls for him to start based on his dual threat capabilities that were in full display Saturday. Statistically, he had the best game of the three UK QB's vying for the starting slot:
Whitlow: 17-28, 193 yds passing, 2TDs, 7 rushes, 49 yards
Maxwell Smith: 11-18, 108 yds, 1TD
Patrick Towles: 6-14, 65 yds, 1TD, 1 INT
Based on these numbers, Whitlow clearly won the day. These numbers don't take one very important factor into account. With the exception of these three QBs, the rest of the team was broken up into two squads. The Blue team had the defensive starters and the second string offense, which the White consisted of the starting offense and the defensive backups. Each of these signal callers played on both teams, meaning that they had time to go against both the starting defense and the second stringers.
I'm the first to believe that Stoops and Co. are going to improve Kentucky's lot and one day we'll have real depth and much better talent than the current roster. But the fact remains, this year's second string defense does not even remotely approximate the rigors of playing in the SEC (for that matter, the starters may not either, but still). With that in mind, take a look at Whitlow and Smith's statistics against only the first string (Blue) defense:
Whitlow: 9-16, 107 yds., 1TD, 2 rushes, -8 yds
Smith: 10-14, 110 yds., 1TD, 2 rushes, -14yds
When comparing apples to apples, the big differences were Whitlow feasting on the White team defense in the running game and throwing 12 of his passes while Smith threw only four. It is also interesting to note that while the Blue defense gave up only 36 yards in 25 carries, the White team was gashed for 236 on forty-one. There is a reason why they are the starters.
Of course, the coaches were quick to point out that we shouldn't read too much into the Blue-White game to begin with. While I am quite happy with the way Whitlow performed, I point this all out in an effort to advise caution as well.
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