Both Mike Hartline and Morgan Newton have started and won games for Kentucky during their careers. Newton won two huge road games against perennial powers Auburn and Georgia as a true freshman last year. On the other hand Mike Hartline is 2-0 against rival Louisville and also quarterbacked the Cats to a victory in the Liberty Bowl as a sophomore.
Ryan Mossakowski is also a talented player, but he has yet to take a live snap, which makes it difficult for him to supplant the two incumbents.
"All of the quarterbacks did something good," said Joker Phillips. "All of them had a blunder also, especially early. Once they settled down they did a good job managing the game," said Phillips.
Managing the game has been a strength of Mike Hartline during his career. He doesn't make many mistakes, but he doesn't take many chances either. On the other hand, Morgan Newton takes more chances and is obviously more talented, but Newton has struggled with the subtleties of the position. Either direction the staff goes; they want somebody out there who's going to lead the team to victory.
"We want a quarterback who can win the game for us. We have to go and figure out who gives us the best chance to win the game. Hopefully we can figure it out after watching this video," said Phillips.
When the staff goes back and watches the video, they will hope to see enough in the scrimmage video, plus what they have seen in practice to possibly name a starter by early this coming week.
"We gotta go back and look and evaluate this film," said Phillips. "It might shake its way out. We might decide we have to go with somebody and try to go with the guy who's most consistent," said Phillips.
Other position battles taking shape
At center Jake Lanefski and Matt Smith are battling it out for a starting role and Joker feels good about both of these players.
"They are both competing. That's probably the tightest competition. Matt's been really consistent. Jake brings that toughness and that nastiness that you want," said Phillips.
At tight end, Nick Melilo's injuries have put five freshman at the forefront. The competition has been pretty fierce. One of the freshmen has stepped up in a major way.
"I really, really like what Tyler Robinson is bringing to us," said Phillips. "He's a guy that understands football and how to get on people in the block game. He's not a guy who'll stretch the field, but he's got a chance to work the underneath zones," he continued.
At safety, Mychal Bailey's arrival has made a big difference in the secondary, especially with the little nagging injuries in the defensive backfield. Coach Phillips is using Bailey's play as a motivator for the other players on the field.
"If I'm them and see (Mychal Bailey) running around, because he looks like he's the fastest guy on the field on either side, I would be getting myself back in," Phillips said. "He's a guy who's lining up with the number ones. It's going to be tough to beat him out. He does a great job stepping up and making tackles in open field," said Phillips.
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