From the moment Mike Hartline went down on a play that technically didnt happen, the question has raged. What should UK do at the Quarterback position? The decision isnt easy. Most armchair quarterbacks believe that you have to go with Randall Cobb, since he is the most explosive athlete on the team and looked virtually unstoppable against South Carolina last week. The problem with that is that Auburn will have a week to get ready for Cobb and one wonders if his body can take the pounding it will receive if he is running the Wildcat from minute #1 on the field. Rich Brooks obviously isnt in favor of that solution and has said that the disruption such a change would cause to the offense means it isnt going to happen. So much for that.
Which leaves us with the two-headed solution of Will Fidler vs Morgan Newton. On the one hand, you have Fidler..in his fourth year with the program, a Kentucky kid who had basically been given up on by the fanbase and forgotten as a potential option. By strong work in the Spring and Fall camp, he worked his way into the backup role and sat ready and poised for this opportunity if something happened. On the other, Morgan Newton…likely the highest touted QB at Kentucky since Tim Couch and the darling of the fanbase. His commitment represented a red letter day for the football program and the excitement he has engendered is obvious. His fall camp was disappointing and the coaches believed an unexpected redshirt was likely. However his talent is immense and there is no doubt that he and Mossakowski are the future of the position.
Today was the first day that the question has been firmly addressed to the coaches. Joker gave no comment…Fidler and Newton were off limits to the media…Randy Sanders said both could play. Clearly, the discussion is still ongoing. I talked to a great source very close to the football players who told me that most believe Newton will be the ultimate choice. While they split reps in practice, the feeling around the team is that Newton is the coaches pick and some of the older guys will be disappointed if Fidler does not get his shot. The debate is ongoing within the team and while Hartline was the unifying factor all could agree upon, the situation now is much more in flux.
It is very likely that we will see both players before the season ends. Going into today, I thought Fidler would start against Auburn and then Newton would be given the chance when they return home. Now I am not so sure. It wouldnt surprise me if we saw three quarterbacks (Fidler, Newton and Cobb) take some snaps against the Tigers on Saturday. If the season were totally lost, you would play Newton and take your lumps. But the Cats desperately want to go to a Bowl game (the 4th straight) and know they have four and potentially five (if you count UT) winnable games left. So the decision becomes more difficult.
Whatever happens, the Cats just hope the QB wont lose them the game…they can rely on Cobb and Derrick Locke to move the ball but they cant have a number of mistakes. Whoever promises to deliver the fewest will likely get the most snaps in the end.