Wildcats' QB battle down to Whitlow, Smith

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Associated Press

Posted on August 21, 2013 at 12:00 PM

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky's quarterback competition is down to Jalen Whitlow and Maxwell Smith.

Wildcats coach Mark Stoops said after Tuesday's scrimmage at Commonwealth Stadium that both quarterbacks will see action in Kentucky's season opener against Western Kentucky, but he doesn't know who will start.

Whitlow, Smith and fellow sophomore Patrick Towles have competed for the starting job since the spring.

Stoops says Smith and Whitlow looked good leading the offense Tuesday and their performances will factor into who will start against WKU. But he also says no matter who starts, it will be a dual quarterback effort when the Wildcats meet the Hilltoppers on Aug. 31 in Nashville.

"Both of those guys will play in the first game, though I don't know who will start yet," Stoops said.

Though the coach had hoped to have someone emerge during camp as the definitive starter. However, when Stoops and offensive coordinator Neal Brown began to realize that wasn't going to happen, they said it wouldn't be a problem to run the pass-oriented "Air Raid" offense using two quarterbacks. All that's left to decide now is who will take the first snaps against WKU.

Whitlow has appeared to be the frontrunner since a strong spring game in which he completed 17 of 28 passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns. Considered the most mobile of the two, he rushed for 49 yards and another score in that scrimmage.

He returns as Kentucky's incumbent after starting the final seven games last year after replacing Smith, who was sidelined with season-ending ankle injury against South Carolina. But Smith is healthy now has made it a tough competition. He is viewed as more of a pocket passer.

The offense struggled late in Saturday's scrimmage but the coach was pleased the way players rebounded on Tuesday.

Stoops said Towles handled the news of being the third quarterback well. Redshirting is an option for the former Mr. Kentucky, who played in five games last season.

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