A simple admission got a little lost over the weekend. Mark Stoops had already stated that quarterbacks Jalen Whitlow and Maxwell Smith would both play in Saturday's opener against Western Kentucky. Stoops said the staff had not decided on a starter. Then yesterday, Stoops admitted that he will not publicly proclaim a starter.
“I don’t see the reason to, really,” said Stoops after the Saturday morning practice. “I think both guys are working extremely hard, and there’s probably no reason for me to name a starter.”
The guess here is Stoops and offensive coordinator Neal Brown know exactly who will take the first snap Saturday. There is no reason, however, for Western Kentucky to know, especially considering the two have slightly different styles.
Whitlow presents more of a running threat. By all reports, his accuracy has improved since last season, but the sophomore's main attribute is that he can extend plays. Smith is the more accurate passer of the two. When on, he can put the ball where he needs to put it, which is a notable attribute for an offensive scheme based on short passes.
I'm guessing Whitlow starts, but that's purely a guess and better to keep Western Kentucky's new defensive coordinator Nick Holt guessing, as well.
The downside to not naming a starting quarterback is that the team may not yet know its offensive leader. And your quarterback is your leader. You may have linemen and running backs and other assorted veterans who can led, but the quarterback is the ultimate leader.
Still, any first game presents mysteries to be solved, especially when two new head coaches are involved. No sense giving the Hilltoppers early help.
- Stoops first season at UK will end better than it starts
- Download the Kentucky sports apps
- Video: Mark Stoops says two quarterbacks will play