Cats march on with two-QB attack

Max Smith (11) and Jalen Whitlow (2)

Those who thought Kentucky may have taken a different direction at quarterback after Max Smith performed well coming off the bench against Western Kentucky and was named the starter against Miami (Ohio) may have been surprised when Jalen Whitlow was back on the field to cap UK's first scoring drive of the game against the Redhawks.

Those who thought Kentucky may have taken a different direction at quarterback after Max Smith performed well coming off the bench against Western Kentucky and was named the starter against Miami (Ohio) may have been surprised when Jalen Whitlow was back on the field to cap UK's first scoring drive of the game against the Redhawks.

But don't call it a quarterback controversy. There is none to be found here. The Wildcats plan to continue using both players under center as long as they remain productive and give UK an advantage.

"We're going to do whatever we've got to do to put our players in a position to be successful," UK head coach Mark Stoops said earlier this week when asked if the plan was to continue using two quarterbacks. "Whatever we think that can help us in any schematic advantage – anything we have to do to help us win – we're going to do."

Smith completed 15 of 23 passes for 310 yards and three touchdowns in the 41-7 romp over Miami last weekend at Commonwealth Stadium. But the UK staff made it clear from the start that Whitlow would remain a big part of the package when he entered the game on the first drive and capped it with a 9-yard yard touchdown run. He finished 10 of 12 passing for 103 yards and rushed for 48 yards on seven carries.

"The best opportunity for us to play well on offense and for us to win is to play both those guys," UK offensive coordinator Neal Brown said.

Before opting to go with two quarterbacks, Brown consulted with Stoops and the defensive staff. They made it clear that it was much more difficult to prepare for both.

Smith gives the Cats a consistent downfield throwing threat, while Whitlow possesses the ability to hurt defense with either his arm or his legs. Broken plays can become good ones with Whitlow toting the football.

"I think it's harder on defense," Brown said.

But what about the breakneck tempo he wanted to utilize this season? Won't revolving quarterbacks slow that down?

Not so, Brown said. The Cats are trying to avoid changing signal callers unless they have a dead ball situation.

There may be more pressure on the coach than the actual players.

"It is," Brown said. "But that's fine. I can handle it."

He noted that using two quarterbacks forces him to be more prepared during the week and "in-tune" with his play-calling.

Brown thinks his offense got a huge confidence boost between the first and second week of the season. The Cats put up the third-highest total yardage figure (675) in school history against Miami after battling inconsistency in the season-opening loss to Western.

"Anytime with young people when you start having a little bit of success, you can kind of build off it," Brown said. "I think they saw the fruits of their labor last Saturday, and we've had two spirited workouts (on Tuesday and Wednesday)."

Kentucky (1-1) will need any edge it can find Saturday when No. 7 Louisville (2-0) rolls into Lexington for the annual Governor's Cup battle. The Cardinals are being billed as a potential darkhorse for a spot in the BCS title game this year.

"The thing that sticks out about their defense is, when you turn it on, they fly to the football. They play with a lot of energy, a lot of passion, they're physical, and they fly to the football," Brown said. "They play like, if I was coaching defense, how I'd like my guys to play."

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