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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: How have UK QB’s done in their First Full Year?


Dusty Bonner had rare 1st year success at QB?  Could we see repeat this year?

It is still unclear who will be the starting quarterback for Kentucky when the season opens in less than 2 weeks, but a positive for the Cats is that they have 3 signal callers with some experience on the roster. Obviously Max Smith started last season and was impressive for 2-3 games before injuries derailed his season. Jalen Whitlow and Patrick Towles had their struggles as his replacement. Either way, if Whitlow or Towles is the choice to start the season, they will become the 8th different UK quarterback to start a season since 1999. So, what does this mean? Well, first check out the statistics of those QB’s during their first years starting a season as the go-to guy. Keep in mind many of these QB’s had starting experience before beginning a season as the starter:


1999: Dusty Bonner (0 starts before season)
303-465, 65.2% comp.
26 TD’s, 13 INT
Record: 6-5 (Loss in Music City Bowl)

2000: Jared Lorenzen (0 starts before season)
321-559, 57.4% comp.
19TD’s
Record: 2-9 (No Bowl)

2004: Shane Boyd (Backup to Lorenzen in 2003, started 5 games before 2004)
138-263, 52.5% comp.
7 TD’s, 9 INT
Record: 2-9 (No Bowl)

2005: Andre Woodson (1 start prior to 2005)
146-253, 57.7% comp.
6 TD’s, 6 INT
Record: 3-8 (No Bowl)

2008: Mike Hartline (0 starts before season)
172-311, 55.3% comp.
9 TD’s, 8 INT
Record: 7-6 (Liberty Bowl Win)
*Hartline was pulled mid-season, but did start bowl game

2011: Morgan Newton (started 6 games in 2009, 1 game in 2010)
83-174, 47.7% comp.
8 TD’s, 7 INT’s
Record: 5-7 (no bowl)
*Newton injured after starting first 8 games

2012: Max Smith (3 starts in 2011 replacing Newton)
103-150, 68.7% comp.
8 TD’s, 4 INT’s
Record: 2-10
*Smith started 4 total games before injuring shoulder and ankle

A couple things I find interesting about these stats.  First, Bonner had a pretty fantastic season but the other 6 guys all had their rough spots.  Touchdown passes were hard to come by, but more importantly, the interceptions seemed to be about 1:1 to those touchdowns.  Never a good ratio to see from your quarterback.  But I also find it interesting that Boyd, Hartline, Newton, and Smith all failed to finish the season as the starter because of injury or performance.  Part of that blame shouldn’t actually fall on the QB because the overall team those guys were leading were not very good.  But will we see the same kind of numbers and wins if Whitlow or Towles is the starter in Game 1?  Or does it matter for this year’s team seeing as Smith only got 4 games of experience last year and probably saw the field as much as the other 2 guys in 2012?  Your thoughts?

Article written by Bryan the Intern

7 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: How have UK QB’s done in their First Full Year?



  1. Skeptic
    9:10 am August 19, 2013 Permalink

    Max Smith is extremely overrated and after his freshman year simply over hyped. He’s an easy QB to figure out and not one who keeps defenses guessing. He could show out with players make plays but he can not do it himself, Whitlow has some of that Randall Cobb in him where in a tough spot he will shoulder the load, yet to be determined if his skill level is high enough to pull us out of a pinch though.



  2. cdc_uky
    9:21 am August 19, 2013 Permalink

    I am not optimistic we will see Bonner-esque numbers this year. This is mostly due to the question marks at WR and the quality of defenses we will face. It is promising to hear that the o-line is doing well so far though…and that is a must for any of the guys to have a chance to be successful. The new offense will be exciting but the QB needs time to throw and still has to execute. I will be thrilled with 4 wins, no major injuries, and some experience to bring to the table with next year’s talent coming in.



  3. Behind the eight ball
    9:29 am August 19, 2013 Permalink

    My thoughts. There is no QB issue anymore. There is a vast difference on the field of the four QBs. Looking at paper stats is silly, what has happened the past two weeks has UK a QB. After August 31 these types of stories will end, thank goodness!



  4. Wesner77
    10:07 am August 19, 2013 Permalink

    Actually, the timeline is from 2012. So that game was supposed to be the championship year.



  5. Hopeful
    10:32 am August 19, 2013 Permalink

    I’m not sure that the Joker and Brooks years QB stats are relevent in this comparison given air raid offense that we will see now. This offense is so different that experience in Joker’s offense won’t matter that much. I don’t really think that we have a true air raid QB on this team. I think a lot of the success this year will hinge on our offensive line. If all we do is throw short passes, we are in trouble. Defenses will take that away in the SEC. At some point, we’ll have to prove that we can run the ball and also be able to throw down field. Both of those elements will depend on the O-Line. If the O-Line is not so good, then we’ll need a hybrid QB like Whitlow to have a chance. If the O-Line is pretty good, then Smith probably will be able to execute the offense better.



  6. jimlowe7
    10:45 am August 19, 2013 Permalink

    Bonner and Lorenzen played in the “Air Raid” of Hal Mumme. Bonner had been the backup to Tim Couch for a year while learning that system and was a PERFECT FIT – limited arm strength and running ability but extreme accuracy and split-second decision making. Lorenzen had a “cannon” for an arm but was not quite as accurate or as quick in decision making as Bonner and he made too many poor decisions trying to “make a play” when his extreme size allowed him to escape rushers. Not staying with Bonner was the biggest BONEHEAD decision ever by Mumme and likely cost us 3-4 wins and a possible bowl that yea. Even though the OL was not as good as the year before, Bonner’s quicker decision making would have compensated IMHO.



  7. Sam
    1:07 pm August 19, 2013 Permalink

    There is no way I would go to Max, and I don’t really buy the experience angle for him. At this point I would argue that Whitlow had more meaningful experience than Max.

    The one thing I see that Max brings to the table is a steady hand. His arm isn’t that great and he’s slow. Unfortunately for Mac, it looks like Whitlow may even be topping him in this aspect as reports indicate Whitlow is turning the ball over less.

    For my part, you either start Whitlow and take advantage of that duel threat and improved passing, or you roll the dice with the the prototype drop back passer with a cannon (Towells) and take your lumps while he learns on the job for a while. I see no advantage to turning to Max.