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September 30, 2013

Stoops wants Cats to narrow to one quarterback

Maybe two really isn't better than one.

As the Kentucky football team prepares for Saturday's game at No. 13 South Carolina, the Wildcats -- content the past three games to let Maxwell Smith and Jalen Whitlow divide the snaps at quarterback -- are looking for single signalcaller to step forward.

"We would like to get to one," UK coach Mark Stoops said Monday at his weekly news conference. "We really would."

That's been a struggle so far this season.

Whitlow was the opening-night starter against Western Kentucky with Smith playing late in the Wildcats' 35-26 loss. Since then, the two have split reps, sometimes for a series at a time, sometimes for just a play.

Smith was the starter for a win against Miami (Ohio) and a loss to Louisville. Whitlow got the nod in last Saturday's loss Florida after Smith injured his shoulder in the U of L game.

But the offense has managed 20 points combined in its past two games, and Stoops seems to be tiring of the two-QB system.

"I think we're going to try to give it to one person, give him the reps and see what he can do," Stoops said. "I think we need to do that. It has not been clear‑cut at this point, it would be reckless for us to name one guy at this point because nobody has taken the job and we're going to evaluate it this week and see where we're at."

Neither quarterback has established himself to this point.

Through four games, Smith has completed 44 of 76 passes for 634 yards with four touchdowns and an interception. The less mobile of the two QBs, he's rushed eight times for a net loss of 25 yards, mostly in sacks.

Whitlow has completed 33 of 50 passes for 321 yards and a touchdown with one interception. He's rushed 29 times for 169 yards and a score.

But the two-quarterback system hasn't let either player settle into a rhythm, and neither has been able to establish himself as the alpha male of the offense.

"I think we need one of these guys to take the reins and lead our team," Stoops said.

And Stoops is hopeful that one of them can.

Consistency, he said, will be the key as Kentucky evaluates both quarterbacks this week.

"We will tailor our offense to do whatever we (have) to do to help us move the ball to win games," Stoops said. "We just need the best player to come forward and be consistent and give us a chance to win."


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