Morgan Newton’s time as Kentucky’s starting quarterback, to put it kindly, has been unproductive. Today, it didn’t get any better. Because of an bruised shoulder on usual starter, Maxwell Smith, Newton was chosen to man the ship just before kickoff against Florida. Newton’s first drive looked like he would be able to at least keep the Wildcats competitive the entire game. After a 26-yard pass to RB Jonathan George, and a couple of key runs, Kentucky’s drive stalled on 4th and 3, deep into Gator territory.
After that, the wheels fell off.
Newton was pulled late in the third quarter with Kentucky down 31-0 and seemingly no chance of coming back. Newton’s final stat line was 7 of 21, 48 yards, and 3 INT. Abysmal.
At his post game press conference, Newton credited the bad play to not only a rushed start, but a career full of inopportune situations.
“I never really got in much of a rhythm, just out of sync. … I just tried to be there for my team and the situation didn’t work out very well. … It’s tough. Over my career, it seems like it’s (always) inopportune. Bad timing. Bad situations. Bad circumstances. You know, post-Randall Cobb, post-Chris Matthews, but pre-(DeMarcus) Sweat, pre-Demarco (Robinson) and all these other guys (meaning he had few viable targets last year). It’s just been tough and it makes me look like a much worse player than I really am, but that’s kind of how life goes.”
To Newton’s credit, throughout the week of practice, there was no indication that Smith would not play in this game. On Wednesday, Smith was pretty confident he would play, and as late as Thursday, head coach Joker Phillips echoed those same sentiments.
“He looked good today throwing. I’m not concerned about Max.” Phillips said.
Obviously, that was not the case, and it left Newton unprepared and struggling against a tough defense. After seeing the huge drop-off of talent from Smith to Newton, it makes you wonder, was there ever really a quarterback competition to begin with?