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Making sense of another WTF weekend in Kentucky football

After mulling over Saturday’s embarrassing loss in the Swamp, I have some questions about this Kentucky football team. From Maxwell Smith not playing to a hoax of a Twitter ban, something fishy is going on with the program, which unfortunately, probably indicates bigger problems within.

— All week, we were led to believe that Maxwell Smith’s injury wasn’t that bad, that his shoulder was sore, but not to the point that he couldn’t play. Here’s a timeline of how it went down:

Wednesday: Maxwell Smith: “My shoulder, it’s alright. It’s definitely not 100 percent. Just alright right now.”
Thursday: Joker on Maxwell: “He looked good today throwing. I’m not concerned about Max.”
Thursday: Joker receives bad report from trainers about Maxwell’s shoulder
Friday: Joker talks to Randy Sanders and they decide to go with Newton
Saturday during warm-ups: Joker and Sanders tell Newton he’s starting
Saturday during first half: Maxwell on sideline in pads, uniform
Saturday during second half: Maxwell on sideline in street clothes with his shoulder iced
Saturday after the game: Joker tells reporters that Smith wanted to go and was willing to play, but Joker didn’t want to risk him further injuring his shoulder.

So many questions, the most glaring of which is why didn’t the staff let Newton know he was going to play earlier than warmups? Newton hasn’t been taking as many snaps at QB during practice due to his new role in the offense (H-back, slot receiver, wherever they can use his “athleticism”), so any kind of heads up would have helped him prepare. Is it possible Joker and Sanders were considering starting Whitlow or Towles instead of Newton? If so, why didn’t they put Whitlow in sooner after Newton was obviously failing?

After Newton had thrown three interceptions (and only seven receptions, if you remember the live blog scoreboard) and looked absolutely abysmal, Joker still hesitated to play Whitlow. I don’t think I’ve ever been so frustrated at a coaching decision before. You know when even the announcers started trotting out the “Morgan Newton is a great guy, BUT” comments, it’s time to show some mercy and bring the kid out. When asked about it after the game, Joker told reporters this: “It’s a tough place to ask a true freshman to come in. We decided we were going to give him one more series and then they scored, so we decided to give him one more and by that time it was out of hand, late in the game.” Heads up, Joker: it was out of hand long before that.

— Also odd: this so-called “Twitter ban” 24 hours before and after games. Either that was only a rule for the Kent State game or the staff just doesn’t care. On Sunday, half of the team tweeted about the loss. Most were “keep your head up, let’s band together” team spirit tweets, but there were a few notable exceptions. After his father told Kyle Tucker that he wanted more playing time and rumors went around the web that he was considering transferring, Patrick Towles took things in his own hands and tweeted that the only place he wants to play is the University of Kentucky. Maxwell Smith tweeted that it was a coaches’ decision to hold him out but ” trust me… I wanted to play!” Morgan Netwon‘s tweet? It may have been the saddest of them all:

At some point on Saturday, the blame for Kentucky’s failures on offense shifted from Newton to Joker. Newton looked miserable, yes, but it is the coach’s responsibility to make a change if things aren’t working. Once Whitlow came in, the offense started to move again, but it was too little too late. The only thing more frustrating than decision to keep Newton in was the fact that had we played well on offense, we might have had a shot at beating Florida.

The most telling signs of Kentucky’s problems right now aren’t even on the field; they’re behind-the-scenes. And sadly, that seems to make a case for major change impossible to ignore.

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

37 Comments for Making sense of another WTF weekend in Kentucky football

  1. Chris
    12:20 pm September 24, 2012 Permalink

    I do feel bad for Morgan. If you are going to try to leave him as the backup QB, he needs to be practicing as the backup qb not in other positions. The backup qb has to prepare as if hes going to be playing the next snap because an injury can happen at anytime and obviously Newton has been preparing in this way in practice. If you want Newton to practice in these other roles you have to have Whitlow ready to be the backup QB.

  2. Bulldawg
    12:23 pm September 24, 2012 Permalink

    joker kicked a rock and his team is stuck in the wilderness…It is time for someone else to step in and lead the Cayts to the promised land!!!

  3. RIP Mel Turpin
    12:26 pm September 24, 2012 Permalink

    I’m a Joker fan, and I’ve never said anything bad about him. But this year keeps getting worse. My emotions are more sad than mad, however my football depression has now exceeded the feeling I had walking to the car in Birmingham a couple years ago.

    Keep pulling for the players regardless. We’ve got to show them the love they deserve. Even Morgan. He has been dealt a poor hand of cards to play (pun intended).

  4. 2020
    12:32 pm September 24, 2012 Permalink

    Coaches are responsible for recruiting and preparing back-ups. Injuries are part of the game.

  5. Al's IndiCats
    12:34 pm September 24, 2012 Permalink

    I’m a Joker fan, always have been, always will….BUT to tell a kid he’s starting just before the game, and he hasn’t had any reps prior in the week is just unprofessional as a head coach on any level. This shows that Jokers leadership as a HC is about as dismal as a flea crawling across the ass of an elephant with sex on his mind and hoping he’ll satisfy her.

  6. Tom Leach
    12:35 pm September 24, 2012 Permalink

    Did anyone hear the disappointment in my voice when Morgan Newton took the field for the 2nd half? I haven’t been that bummed out since Sonny Collins cut his hair.

  7. Blew Hare
    12:40 pm September 24, 2012 Permalink

    Mrs. Thompson: You don’t understand! If we play Towles now it will mess up his learning curve and then he will have only one season of eligability left after Maxwell Smith is gone. Then we will not have a QB for the 2016 season. You don’t expect us to find another potential QB and have him ready by then do you? PLEASSE !!

  8. coach
    12:41 pm September 24, 2012 Permalink

    When is UK going to pull the plug with this staff? I personally believe the end of the season is too long to wait. Fire him, make Sanders the interem coach w/the understanding he too will be fired at the end of the year, and start your search now for the next coach. If we wait until later, other more attractive programs might have vacant spots to attract quality coaches. We need to be the only fish in the sea when it comes to searching for a new coach and the longer we wait, the harder it will be to find someone quality.

  9. Jim Tressel
    12:44 pm September 24, 2012 Permalink

    couldn’t agree more with #8. If you want me, come get me now!! Got a blue sweater vest ready

  10. Wildcat8
    12:44 pm September 24, 2012 Permalink

    Let’s face we have a pansy for a football coach. No aggression or emotion in any direction and always playing not to lose on that field. It’s like some sort of secret strategy Joker thinks we’ve got. And don’t give me this crap about him needing more time or he’s only been the coach for 2 full seasons and some change. Joker has been with us what 8 years now roughly. You mean to tell me he still cant figure this team out or our fanbase. It’s not like we got him yesterday.

  11. say what?
    12:48 pm September 24, 2012 Permalink

    LOL, #8, you mean to tell me that if your immediate boss was fired and the CEO told you you were moving into that position for about 8 weeks and then you would be fired that you would accept that? C’mon man! So if we wait to hire a new coach then other more attractive programs might have vacancies? Well… just how many coaches are out there now to be hired? Or are the employable ones employed? the time to hire is NOT now. It doesn’t matter… quality coaches are NOT going to come here mid season, and if UT, Arkansas and whoever else is going to hire then they are going to get the best coaches over UK anyway! It doesn’t matter when the hires are made. LOL, UK will HAVE to do (read that again, UK will HAVE to do) what it always does… hire a no name mid major coach because all the other bona fide candidates will take the better jobs and let’s face it, they won’t even talk to us anyway!

  12. Rixter
    12:49 pm September 24, 2012 Permalink

    Lead us to the promised land? Hell, at this point I’m looking for somebody who can lead us back that long road to mediocrity

  13. chris
    12:50 pm September 24, 2012 Permalink

    Joker Phillips, who I used to like, has completely lost the team after this weekend. You do not tell a QB that he is starting in warmups, throw him to the wolves(or gators), then when he performs exactly as you know he’s going to, jerk him out, and then after the game roll him under the bus, and announce he’s been demoted to third string? Was this an audition? Did he tell Morgan, “Ok, your starting, and if you don’t do good, I’m demoting you’. How low class do you have to be to do this? Joker is looking for any excuse now. Need more time, guys are young, new system, injuries. It’s all a smoke screen to cover up the fact that he is in over his head. He’s not a third year on the job coach. He was the recruiting coordinator, he was the associate head coach, and he was the offensive coodinator for many years before he took over. This is all on him.
    I used to love Joker, but now no way would I let my son play for him after the way he treated Morgan Newton this weekend.

  14. bmack
    12:51 pm September 24, 2012 Permalink

    #7 – she said: “why didn’t they put WHITLOW in sooner after Newton was obviously failing?” What does that have to do with Towles’ redshirt? This post was not a plea to start Towles.

  15. Baldy in Mendo
    12:53 pm September 24, 2012 Permalink

    Sorry to change the subject, but are we getting a podcast today? I’m gonna be late for work if this thing doesn’t become available soon

  16. Rixter
    12:54 pm September 24, 2012 Permalink

    Number 10, if Joker is playing not to lose, then we’ve just discovered something else he SUCKS at!

  17. Rixter
    12:57 pm September 24, 2012 Permalink

    Joker said several times he treated Max the way he would have his own son, that’s why he held him out of the game. Why didn’t he have that same consideration for Morgan? Would he have let his own son continue to go out there and embarrass himself? I think not.

  18. Davefromdagap
    1:06 pm September 24, 2012 Permalink

    How the hell is it, that if Newton is your backup QB that he’s not getting snaps in practice? This whole mess goes much deeper than wins and losses, points, results. The fact of the matter is, this is a loosing system. We are not going to get a lot of elite talent, so we’re fighting a uphill battle from jump street. You combine that with lack of prepardness and just plain silly $hit, you get what we’ve got. And it’s only going to get worse. I still think the entire injury deal with Smith looks fishy, I ain’t much into conspiracys but this looks like a ready made scape goat excuse. If it’s not, this is just another example of Joker’s inability to lead a program.

  19. Billy G
    1:08 pm September 24, 2012 Permalink

    “The only thing more frustrating than decision to keep Newton in was the fact that had we played well on offense, we might have had a shot at beating Florida.”

    Now I know you are delusional..

  20. Bill Cowher
    1:18 pm September 24, 2012 Permalink

    I can’t accept or refuse the job without first being offered.

    Just call me. Stranger things have happened.

  21. Bevo
    1:20 pm September 24, 2012 Permalink

    With the “It’s a tough place to put a true freshman in” talk…good thing Joker wasn’t in charge when Randall Cobb was a true freshman winning games for UK.

  22. Common Sense
    1:27 pm September 24, 2012 Permalink

    I don’t see anything wrong with starting Newton in the 3rd quarter. Whitlow is a freshman, you try to refrain from throwing a freshman into the teeth of the SEC. Even Tebow didn’t play as a freshman so I don’t understand all the bickering about Newton starting the 3rd.
    Cobb wasn’t a QB.

  23. Biglaw Dawgin'
    1:27 pm September 24, 2012 Permalink

    The only thing that could explain Newton’s throws is if the coaching staff taped shake weights in his hands for the 48 hours prior to the game.

  24. asdf
    1:28 pm September 24, 2012 Permalink

    We probably would not have won the game even if the offense were “on”, but we could have certainly made Florida sweat for a while.

  25. asdf
    1:29 pm September 24, 2012 Permalink

    Where is that danged wildcat package this year, anyway? Saturday would have been a perfect day to try some stuff like that. Anything to take a little pressure off Newton, who was put in a VERY unfair situation.

  26. Common Sense
    1:32 pm September 24, 2012 Permalink

    Cobb did play some QB, but look at his numbers, not very impressive.

  27. BobKYCats
    1:36 pm September 24, 2012 Permalink

    @ Common Sense:

    Cobb was a QB his freshman year; he was switched to WR his sophomore season. He was a QB in high school, he was recruited to play QB at UK, and he played QB his freshman year.

  28. Bevo
    1:44 pm September 24, 2012 Permalink

    @ Common Sense…I was thinking he basically won the game @ Auburn for UK as a fresh? Maybe I’ve got my years wrong. Regardless, my point was the fact that JP holds back the freshman when it’s painfully obvious the upperclassmen ahead of them aren’t getting it done.

  29. Al's IndiCats
    2:01 pm September 24, 2012 Permalink

    That’s pretty laughable 27. But there again it was written by someone from UF. We’ll see how strong they are once they get into the meat of SEC play. I never root for any other team except UK, but because of this douche’s “opinion” Hell I’ll root for UT if they play them, and I hate all UT in everything.

  30. Kevin
    2:18 pm September 24, 2012 Permalink

    I wonder how much traffic on this site falls during the football season. People are starting to just not even care anymore

  31. Yep a doodle
    2:21 pm September 24, 2012 Permalink

    #22 – I kinda agree with you, but then I think…what is the absolute worst thing that could have happened? Short of Winslow having a career ending injury, starting a freshman in the 2nd half against Florida makes all the sense in the world.

    Joker tells the kid: We are down 24-0. There’s no pressure on you. Go out and do your best.

    Does Winslow die of fright? Transfer in the middle of a play.

    Bottom line is…Newton was terrible and Winslow is the backup. Why not throw him out there to see what he has?

  32. Oogie
    3:04 pm September 24, 2012 Permalink

    31: maybe not as much as you’d think; ppl still come here several times a day, hoping for scraps of hoops news.

  33. AaronJ
    3:20 pm September 24, 2012 Permalink

    “The only thing more frustrating than decision to keep Newton in was the fact that had we played well on offense, we might have had a shot at beating Florida.”

    Yeah and I bet you also believe pixies and unicorns are real.

  34. INCatFan
    3:22 pm September 24, 2012 Permalink

    My biggest beef with Joker as head coach is that I thought the idea behind a coach in waiting is to continue what you had going, that it was supposed to mean consistency in the program. How is it consistency when Joker came in a fired several coordinators and replaced them with his own staff? It’s definitely not consistent with what we had going when Brooks was here.

  35. catfan101--Sam--
    6:34 pm September 24, 2012 Permalink

    what joker needs to do is put 2 half backs out at once one being newton (he can pass it every now and then) but manly to run and to confuse the (D) that would open up some awesome play action passes to (witch Smith seems to be OK at…’ some one help me get this to joker it could help a lot

  36. catfan68
    1:06 am September 25, 2012 Permalink

    Joker is absolutely clueless