The University of Kentucky and their new head coach Mark Stoops are set to embark on a new path just five days from now. With a brand new coaching staff and a high-powered offense, one big question still remains. Who is the starting quarterback? Kentucky has four quarterbacks currently on the roster. Max Smith earned the starting nod last season before he was sidelined with an ankle injury. Jalen Whitlow took advantage of Smith’s misfortune and showed off his ultra athletic ability as a replacement. Highly touted and home-grown talent Patrick Towles was highly regarded out of high school and saw limited action last season due to injury. Perhaps the dark horse of the bunch is freshman sensation Reese Phillips, who has raised a lot of eyebrows in practice.
Head coach Mark Stoops has said they will not name a quarterback before the opening game vs. Western Kentucky. This can be seen as a sign of indecision, or just trying to protect a game plan. Why would Stoops want to reveal his starting quarterback when each player is uniquely dynamic? Western Kentucky will have much more difficulty trying to prepare for multiple quarterbacks rather than just one.
Kentucky will look to use at least two quarterbacks versus the Hilltoppers. While Max Smith lead the way last year, I firmly believe Jalen Whitlow will get the start. In this new up-tempo offense, the quarterback is more dangerous when he has an exceptional quality. Whitlow has shown a nice arm, but his ability to make plays will separate him from the rest. Towles has this ability, but Whitlow is the best and more experienced.
I am not a fan of using a dual-quarterback system. The only time I’ve ever seen it be remotely successful was when Florida used Chris Leak and Tim Tebow in 2007. Tebow was completely different from Leak and played very sparingly. When Florida used Tebow, he was out there to get the extra yard or two because he was a bigger body. Kentucky does not have a quarterback that can push the pile, and neither Whitlow nor Smith will become that kind of player. Kentucky already has enough rebuilding to take care of, and the quarterback position is extremely essential to get right. I feel the team as a whole will develop faster when they know who the starting quarterback will be. He will always lead the 1st team reps, the lineman will learn his voice, his cadence, and develop a rhythm with the receivers.
The Wildcats need to develop into a competitive football team early and often due to their brutal schedule in the SEC. They need the confidence to know they can compete in their conference. The coaching staff is there, the excitement is there and the recruiting is there. They will now need to prove their worth on the football field. That all starts on Aug. 31 against WKU in Nashville. Kentucky’s season can literally go one way or the other with an encouraging or poor performance. Once the starter is named, the foundation can be laid for a program on the rise.
Brian Lewis is an SEC Football Writer for RantSports.com. You can add him to your network on Google for more of his work.