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Did switching quarterbacks seal the end of the Phillips era?

Losing Patrick Towles after Maxwell Smith went down was probably the worst thing that could happen for offensive coordinator Randy Sanders’ playcalling. Towles, like Smith, is more of a traditional, pass-first quarterback who can deliver the ball pretty well on intermediate to deep routes. If you can’t throw that ball on a consistent basis, it limits what Sanders feels comfortable calling and ultimately limits the offensive production.

Enter Jalen Whitlow. Whitlow, not a great deep ball thrower, but a pretty solid athlete, was the only completely healthy quarterback on Kentucky’s roster. After laying an egg against Arkansas, Whitlow, combined with a little Morgan Newton, played well enough against Georgia to bring Kentucky within a touchdown of winning. Most thought the momentum would carry over when the Wildcats traveled to face the previously defeated-in-conference-play, Missouri Tigers, and for the most part it did.

Whitlow got the call to start the game, and, despite a fumble by Jonathan George on the on opening drive, had the offense looking as good as it has post-Smith. Despite such a good start, Sanders pulled Whitlow for Towles in the third series. Kentucky’s offense proceeded to go three-and-out, and never recovered after that.

“If I had to do it over again, maybe I wouldn’t have done that,” Sanders said when asked if he thought pulling Whitlow disrupted Kentucky’s offensive rhythm.

Is Sanders’ itch to open up his playbook with a traditional quarterback so great that it supersedes Kentucky winning a football game? Looking at today’s game the answer to that question is a resounding “yes.”

Before the Wildcats suffered an ungodly amount of injuries at quarterback, the original quarterback depth chart listed Towles behind Whitlow for the third spot, something Joker Phillips stressed was no fluke; Whitlow simply was the better quarterback. Whitlow outplayed the highly-touted Towles in practice and today we might have seen it first-hand in a game.

Plain and simple, Sanders jumped the gun on pulling Whitlow out of this game. At the post-game press conference, Whitlow would not throw his offensive coordinator under the bus like Sanders has done to the young freshman before, but he did express that the switch took him out of rhythm.

“The quarterback rotation isn’t a huge deal, but it does mess up rhythm,” Whitlow replied when asked how did he feel about being yanked for Towles when everything was going well.

Did Sanders do it for his own selfish reasons? It sure looked like it. And now, if there wasn’t going to be a regime change before today’s game, it looks more likely than ever now. This mistake looks like the one that sealed it.

Article written by Rashawn Franklin

50 Comments for Did switching quarterbacks seal the end of the Phillips era?

  1. Still da best
    8:05 pm October 27, 2012 Permalink

    Really, this is the mistake? How about play calling my kid can figure out

  2. Roll Tide
    8:06 pm October 27, 2012 Permalink

    I will not be surprised if Joker comes back next year.

  3. RIP Cawood
    8:12 pm October 27, 2012 Permalink

    RIP Cawood, glad you are not having to suffer though this!

    8:16 pm October 27, 2012 Permalink

    Im not trying to disrupt the football celebrating but this Aaron Gordon who is coming to visit Cal soon looks very good. Slam dunking hard,

  5. cayts
    8:17 pm October 27, 2012 Permalink

    we can talk about QB injuries all we want, but we all know morgan newton is the guy who is completely healthy yet, the staff was never able to develop him and here we’re stuck with throwing out FR QBs.
    joker had two much easier schedules in his first 2 seasons at UK than most realize & couldnt win so no one should be surprised we’re not winning this year.

  6. JBR
    8:18 pm October 27, 2012 Permalink

    Wow, the football writing on this site just keeps getting better. So THIS is the thing that will get Joker fired. Yeah, right. Being a complete invalid as a coach has nothing to do with it. Bascially running off an entire fan base doesn’t either. We could list stupid decisions exactly like this one on Joker for weeks. It amazes me that Mitch will not pull the trigger now, and go ahead and get or at least begin contacting available candidates. But no, we will be politically correct, wait and wait, and then we will pick from the scraps after every other vacancy is filled.

  7. Gone
    8:19 pm October 27, 2012 Permalink

    Joker and Sanders need to help each other pack their bags! Stick a fork in both of them.

  8. kingrex
    8:22 pm October 27, 2012 Permalink

    I am not sure the quarterback switch was as big a deal as it seems. Whitlow cannot throw the ball which means eventually they were going to stack the box and kick our ass. Whitlow looked horrible every single time he threw the ball. He is a freshman and do not blame him, but am just pointing it out. If Towles could complete some passes then we really could have had something going. Honestly, the fumble on the first possession was the end of the game. We should have been up 21 nothing, but instead were down. We missed that interception on the sideline that I believe could have been a pick 6. We had two interceptions, but we also dropped at least three others. Did anyone wonder why the UK defender was waiting on that dead lob instead of going towards it and attacking? That ball should have been intercepted but at the very least not completed. Then the tipped ball inside the 10 later. These plays made the game so much more painful because we just gave them points all day long.

  9. DirtyDave
    8:23 pm October 27, 2012 Permalink

    I would be really surprised if the process hasn’t already been started. This is something that wouldn’t be made public at this point in time

  10. Juan4UK
    8:24 pm October 27, 2012 Permalink

    They have to go, no doubt. But I sure would like to get a count of the flopping here. First the offense should be opened up to show they want to win, now Sanders is desperate trying to open the offense up. People can’t have it both ways. Stay on one side.
    Granted, horrible today by Sanders. All very poor decisions. If a situation with this team was working, you can’t go with a predetermined plan just because.
    We need to get some flip flop fact checkers on here. See who said what over the last two yrs.

  11. carnifex
    8:25 pm October 27, 2012 Permalink

    Not only was it bad to screw with a team that was actually having success moving the ball, but you put a freshman who is coming off the injured list on the 6 yard line. WTF?

    And the play calling! ZOMG!! It was like watching someone trying to play Madden on their Xbox for the very first time! They were running downhill fairly well, then it’s a toss sweep to the right for a loss. A sweep to the left for no gain. And cap it off with the always successful, never duplicated dump off to the tailback.

    Two words…Ball security! And I ain’t talking your cup you jackwagons!

    And Mushmouth still has difficulty understanding exactly what you are supposed to do when you punt the effing ball!

    The thought of who Barney is gonna replace Mushmouth with gives me diarrhea.

  12. PLEASE
    8:26 pm October 27, 2012 Permalink

    WHAT?!?! Your saying that a coach that tries to put another player in for a player that has already lost alot of games is wrong for doing so??? I bet your one of those that would be saying it was a brilliant move if it had worked. Franklin, this is clearly not the mistake that sealed it…losing is. You can find better stuff to write about…I think your reaching here.

  13. I'mNotDrunck
    8:28 pm October 27, 2012 Permalink


  14. UK is the New Vandy
    8:30 pm October 27, 2012 Permalink

    1. Joker is a really nice guy
    2. I wish he could do it
    3. He deserves another year
    4. He was a good offensive coordinator
    5. LOL

  15. I'mNotDrunck
    8:30 pm October 27, 2012 Permalink

    in basketball…

  16. Katdaddy
    8:48 pm October 27, 2012 Permalink

    When did ksr start making the decisions?

  17. Sources Close To Program
    8:50 pm October 27, 2012 Permalink

    Mitch reportedly in California today?

  18. Buckets
    8:52 pm October 27, 2012 Permalink

    Our coaching staff is a bunch of bumbling idiots, which I hate to say because I like Joker.

  19. Rixter
    8:53 pm October 27, 2012 Permalink

    I can see it now: a postseason press conference where Barnhart announces Joker’s firing, and he is asked..was it the 1 – 11 record? Was it losing to WKU and Samford? Was it the worst play calling in the history of football?
    “No”, he replies…”the reason I decided to relieve him of his duties is because he switched quarterbacks back in the Missouri game. I just couldn’t overlook that”

  20. Joe Diesel
    8:58 pm October 27, 2012 Permalink

    Joker sucking was the end of the joker era

  21. BlueTexan
    9:03 pm October 27, 2012 Permalink

    Barnfart is the CEO…Joker is a VP and Sanders an Asst. VP. Barnfart has proven he can’t (won’t) judge talent (ie. BCG). ELI – FIRE BARNFART!!!!! Hire a respected and professional AD (you don’t have one now), give him the responsibility to ‘fix’ football, give him the budget to find replacements if warranted and hold him accountable for the results. But, hey, that’s too simple to comprehend.

  22. Sources Close Tp Program
    9:24 pm October 27, 2012 Permalink

    Rumor has it that Mitch has organized a Search Committee to find the next football coach.
    Following are rumored to be members of the committee: Eddie Sutton, Tubby Smith, Billy G, Hal Mummie, Claude Bassett, Rick Pitino, Joe B
    Committee Chair….David Roselle

    Eddie can ensure they do not use Emmery to delievr packages, Tubby can instruct on how to coach your son at quarterback, Billy can give disclipne pointers, Hal can show them how to style their hair, Claude can teach rogue recruiting, Rick can advise on how to ignore everyone in the state…consider them all to be idiots, Joe B can teach the proper technique for a $100 hand shake…….and, if they cannot find a good candidate then Roselle can confirm that sports do not matter anyway.

    I’m excited about this committee….I believe they can and will can come up with a uniquely qualified candidate!

  23. Rixter
    9:29 pm October 27, 2012 Permalink

    All the KSR writers keep saying this game sealed Joker’s fate. Had we won today, and finished 3 – 9, Barnhart could have legitimately brought Phillips back.

    Cal said it best: you people are crazy

  24. mwgocats
    9:51 pm October 27, 2012 Permalink

    Joker is a joke

  25. jumpman78
    9:59 pm October 27, 2012 Permalink

    21. Idiot
    22. Complete fail.

  26. Dave
    10:02 pm October 27, 2012 Permalink

    Tommy Tuberville?

  27. kybigblue
    10:22 pm October 27, 2012 Permalink

    Remember the first time Whitlow a freshmen got into a game this year it was with the ball inside the UK 10 yard line. Not a good way to build confidence. Then the first time Towles got into a game he threw 5-5 including a TD but on the next series Towles handed the ball off three times and UK went 3 and out. Taking a 5 yard penalty to kick again after just completing a 53 yard punt was unreal. Common sense seems to have gone out the window.

  28. bbmike
    10:42 pm October 27, 2012 Permalink

    Actually when max smith went down the season ended. No hope for wins after that. With max we have a chanc e . W/o max we dont.

  29. niaps
    10:49 pm October 27, 2012 Permalink

    Louisiana Tech is # 24 in nation. The coach is Dykes. He is a winner at a small school on a large scale. This is who UK needs here plain and simple. We miss out on him we will be losing to him next year at Auburn or Tennessee or Arkansas or maybe even U of L. You heard it here now beware.

  30. yep
    11:15 pm October 27, 2012 Permalink

    28, Not sure how much of a chance we had with Smith. Western beat us while he was healthy.

  31. buddyblue62
    11:36 pm October 27, 2012 Permalink

    did this seal the deal are you smoking crack joker couldnt coach a highschool team but good enough for uk….

  32. sccatfan1
    11:46 pm October 27, 2012 Permalink

    Yeah, I’m sure Whitlow would have taken us 90 yards from the shadow of our own goalpost. Please…KSR football analysis is laughable at best.

  33. cooler74
    11:55 pm October 27, 2012 Permalink

    Joker may be a nice guy but a football coach, he ain’t! Send this ptitful football team to the OVC. Maybe they could win a game or two there. And I mean maybe….At least basketball season is here!

  34. blueboy
    12:07 am October 28, 2012 Permalink

    Joker made the mistake of giving in and playing Towles. Whitlow is head and shoulders above Towles. Once father Towles had started talking about play or transfer, I would have hiven him a release. Whitlow was in a rythm. Towles has yet to show as much as tge wide receiver that played QB last year. Yowles is just riding the coat tails of his has been family.

  35. fan fan
    12:09 am October 28, 2012 Permalink

    People on this blog are stupid. Max is in his 3rd yr learning this offense. Sanders suck and the offense too. Why are u blaming a true fresh whitlow. Kentucky was last in offense last yr Towels is not very good. Whitlow killed him every day in practice. If hr was half as good he would be start before whitlow. With a good coach Kentucky will win a lot next yr

  36. KyTom
    12:22 am October 28, 2012 Permalink

    THIS is exactly what I have been talking about since Joker was named Head Coach in Waiting. The absolute STUPID in game decisions made by Joker when he was OC and then as coach is beyond defensible. Joker personally cost us 2 wins against UT. I hope we hire a search firm to help us find a new coach. I have ZERO confidence in Barnhart to hire a coach. He gave us Billy Clyde. Thank God Mike Pratt stepped up and made the call to Calipari and got that ball rolling.

  37. Mad Chet
    1:46 am October 28, 2012 Permalink

    We football fans should consider Coach Strong. Leave the bullshit at the gate. He would be a great get. He’s a coach on the rise. Sure, he’s stepped on his own [email protected] a few times but he’s got that out of his system and he wins the games he’s supposed to win. He was a successful coach at FLORIDA!-DUH. Wise up fools! Maybe he’s got an axe to grind with Florida too! He ought to be our #1 target. I haven’t even seen his name in the discussion as a replacement for the Joke!

  38. Jackson Purchase
    2:34 am October 28, 2012 Permalink

    No the Joker era was over when he was hired as OC.

  39. OMG
    7:46 am October 28, 2012 Permalink

    Up the middle draw play up the middle drae plaw up the middle..and so on

  40. plowboy
    8:51 am October 28, 2012 Permalink

    Lets not give up so early on towles. You have to have a line to protect him. It’s easy to see that the coaching staff has not done it.s job.

  41. markp
    9:08 am October 28, 2012 Permalink

    Towles has a lot of potential! Using him this year is just another reason to get rid of Joker. I have been saying it for 2 years and now the chickens have come home to roost. Get rid of Joker and all of this staff.

  42. Gtown Boy
    9:29 am October 28, 2012 Permalink

    #22- terrible. Not funny
    Towles will be great in the future but Jalen had the offense moving. Jokers decision making is awful

  43. Harry Johnson
    9:56 am October 28, 2012 Permalink

    JD Harmon and Landon Foster are the only two freshman worth taking about.

  44. jch
    10:01 am October 28, 2012 Permalink

    Switching QBs isn’t the final straw, this game as a whole, however, is; or should be anyway.

    So, now what for UK football?

    By the way, did anyone else notice Kent State just beat #15 Rutgers and by doing so, became bowl eligible? They are 7-1 on the season; their only loss, Kentucky…


  45. jch
    10:08 am October 28, 2012 Permalink

    Looking at next year, what does the new coach do with the QB situation?

    Max Smith – 3 years eligibility (assuming med. red-shirt)
    Jalen Whitlow – 3 years eligibility
    Patrick Towles – 3 years eligibility

    You can make a case for hanging your hat on all 3

  46. Fan Fan
    11:27 am October 28, 2012 Permalink

    46 u can probably forget max. He is too injury prone. Whitlow and towels will get most of the action next yr

  47. CharlieStrong
    12:25 pm October 28, 2012 Permalink

    #37 “Ain’t a snowballs chance,ice water will be served in Hades before I lower myself to the doormat of the SEC.Besides, me and the Choke are good buddies.I called off the azz whoopin’ just so Choker would stay around a few more years.”

  48. Doug
    12:29 pm October 28, 2012 Permalink

    All I can say is “Who Cares?” It’s almost basketball season and this joke of a team and program will soon be forgotten. I think Barnhart will keep Joker because deep down he knows that really no one in Kentucky cares about football; never has and never will.

  49. BuckToothInBugtussle
    3:54 pm October 28, 2012 Permalink

    #22 BEST post all day!!!!