UK Football: Wildcats aren't yet set at quarterback; Towles, Whitlow will get shot
Kentucky players ham it up for the camera as they surround coach Joker Phillips after posing for the official team photo during the Wildcats' media day Friday at Commonwealth Stadium. (Clay Jackson / August 5, 2012)
“Patrick Towles figures into this. He figures into it a lot,” Phillips said Friday during Kentucky’s media day. “He's a guy that we've got to find out how much he can do. He can make plays with his leg, with his arms. He's a smart guy who only threw 46 touchdowns last year and one interception. It's unbelievable. So we've got to find out how much he can do for us.
“We will give him an opportunity, he and Jalen Whitlow, an opportunity to be live at times because that gives them the best chance to compete. You've seen the great quarterbacks that have the athleticism and ability to elude tacklers, get away from some of those tacklers. So we'll get a chance to compete as a live player in our offense for at least one scrimmage to see how he can play under fire.
“I think you need to do that also for freshman quarterback because they don't understand the speed which the game is played at this level. So we'll give him every opportunity to compete for the position also.”
Newton lost his starting job last year when he was injured, but the Kentucky offense also struggled to score points or produce yardage much of the season.
“I was Patrick Towles three, four years ago, Max (Smith) was, (Mike) Hartline was, Andre (Woodson) was, and Randall (Cobb) was, but Randall is still Randall. You got to take it in stride, and I wish Patrick the best and I will help him out the best I can,” Newton said. “The guy you all are overlooking is another quarterback in Jalen Whitlow who is just as good and a guy who can really play and is really sound and a sharp guy.”
Newton says there are obstacles for Towles and Whitlow to overcome, but he did in 2009 when he started eight games as a true freshman after Hartline was injured.
“Obviously the offense is much more complex, as well as defense. The thing that helped me is I was physically ready to play, and that is something that helps because the coaches won’t throw you out there if you’re not physically able to play,” Newton said. “Also the mental game with so much going on. There is 22 moving parts, so you try to maximize space with 22 guys to make it be successful.”
Praising Dupree: Phillips says sophomore linebacker Alvin “Bud” Dupree is as ”physically gifted” as any player he’s been around.
“He's as gifted as anyone. We deem him one of our leaders that does things the right way. That understands the commitment level and dedication level that you have to have to play this game at a high level,” Phillips said Friday. “Again, this time last year we're trying to convince him that the best thing for him would be moving to a linebacker, moving to defense. He wasn't really sure about it. This summer he came up to me and said, ‘Coach, this is the best thing that's happened to me.’”
Phillips thinks he will be one of the “premium guys” in the SEC based on his athleticism and physical talents.
“He runs, he jumps, he's really, really smart. When you saw the last game of the season last year (against Tennessee), we rushed him from the outside, we lined him up as inside linebacker and he rushed the passer. We lined him up as an inside linebacker, and he dropped,” the Kentucky coach said.
“His intelligence level allows us to move him around. When you can move a guy around with that kind of talent, you can't account for him. We see that a lot. This guy lines up on our left side, so we have to have our back over for our protection towards him. You can't account for a guy like Bud Dupree, because you don't know where he's going to lineup at. The reason he's able to line up at a number of positions is because he's so smart. He understands all the different packages.”
Twitter-less: Phillips told his freshmen Thursday to tell their Twitter followers goodbye until Aug. 15, when he lets players resume using Twitter. He told his older players the same thing Friday.
“We don't have time for it, first of all. If you see our schedule, we're up at 7, we're in bed at 11 and there is no time to relax, no time to Twitter. When do they do it? From the walk from the Nutter Center to the Commons Dining Hall. That's the only time they have, and I want that time spent visiting with their teammates,” he said. “We'll give big brothers to the young guys. I want that time spent getting these young guys understanding how we do things.”
Phillips did not ban video games during camp.
“That's at night time when they're getting off their feet,” the coach said. “One of the goals that you must do in training camp is you must take care of your body. It's a long, grueling season, it's a long grueling camp, and we must take care of our bodies.
“The time that we spend Twittering, that's time they could be in the cold ice tub. That's time they could be getting treatment from our training staff. We don't have time to Twitter.”