The Kentucky Wildcats had many questions to answer heading into Saturday’s Blue-White game at Commonwealth Stadium. A crowd of more than 50,000, a UK record for the spring scrimmage, showed up to watch Mark Stoops and his troops do battle.
The biggest question was, which player is in the lead in the three-player quarterback battle? Sophomores Maxwell Smith, Patrick Towles and Jalen Whitlow played for both the Blue and White teams (they wore black jerseys), and each got an equal share of the snaps.
Heading into the game, it was assumed that Smith was the likely leader, followed by the highly-regarded Towles, then Whitlow. After all, Smith had been the starter last season, and even in a few games during the 2011 campaign.
Neither Stoops nor offensive coordinator Neal Brown would say which signal caller was in the lead in the competition as spring practice progressed. They also said that the competition would likely carry over into fall practice. But both coaches also said that the quarterbacks could make a big impression by playing well in the Blue-White game.
And, surprising to many, it was Whitlow who played the best among the three. Overall, Whitlow hit on 17-of-28 passing for 193 yards and three touchdowns in the 24-23 Blue team victory. He also rushed for a total of 49 yards in the game.
Smith was shaky most of the game. He went 11-of-18 through the air for 108 yards, most of which came on a 47-yard touchdown strike to Demarco Robinson in the fourth quarter. Smith also had some passes dropped, but his accuracy, the thing at which he is probably best, was slightly off on Saturday.
Towles also looked nervous and a little off in the game. The former Kentucky Mr. Football was only six-of-14 for 65 yards, with one touchdown. He did have one rush for 16 yards.
A fourth quarterback, true freshman Reese Phillips, played well during his limited action. Phillips, who almost certainly will be redshirted, was 10-of-12 for 75 yards and a score.
As spring practice finishes, only the coaches know which quarterback is in the lead to be the starter in the fall. But if Saturday’s game is any indication, Whitlow may see more time behind center than many experts had predicted.