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October 31, 2013
QB Whitlow trying to play through pain for Cats
Jalen Whitlow, is something "you can't really play with."An injury, to sophomore quarterback
With pain, on the other hand, you can.
Whitlow describes himself as in pain, not injured, as he resumes starting quarterback duties ahead of Kentucky's game Saturday against Alabama State.
"It would be good to be out there, to help my team," Whitlow said. "I think they want me out there, too, my teammates."
He's dealing with an ankle injury sustained three weeks ago against Alabama.
"It's still a little bit sore," Whitlow said. "But it's fine. Fine enough to play."
He's also dealing with a sprained AC joint in his left shoulder against Mississippi State last week.
"It hurts," Whiltow said. "I'm not going to lie. It hurts a little bit. But I'm just going to try to play through it."
Some of that might be through the cajoling of coach Mark Stoops, who on Monday said his team needed to "learn to differentiate between being injured and just being a little bit banged up," while also citing multiple SEC quarterbacks who have played through injuries this season.
However, Whitlow said he didn't take those comments personally.
"I mean, he's right," Whiltow said. "He's right. You know, he said it best. Nothing I can say. I mean, he was just telling us, as a team, we got to -- we're going to be banged up, we got to be tougher. But I didn't really take it as a personal challenge."
Personal or not, offensive coordinator Neal Brown said he's seen Whitlow respond in practice this week.
"He's been out here every day, hasn't missed any time," Brown said.
Brown said Kentucky's offense this season doesn't look like -- and hasn't been as productive as -- he'd envisioned, but a healthy Whitlow would certainly help the Wildcats.
"I think we've got to get more consistent quarterback play," Brown said of the offensive struggles. "I think that's probably at the top of the list."
At the top of the depth chart again, Whitlow said trainers told him his shoulder will be "sore all year, pretty much," and his ankle could continue to cause the mobile quarterback pain.
He said pre-game treatment and adrenaline will help him deal with it as he tries to guide Kentucky to its second win.
"I try not to let (the injuries) hinder me at all," Whitlow said. "I feel it here and there. But I try to play through it. Try not to let it hold me back."
If something does end up holding Whitlow back -- or out of a game -- the options behind him are still in flux.
Sophomore Maxwell Smith and freshman Reese Phillips have split backup reps in practice this week, Brown said.
Stoops said Smith is still the No. 2 quarterback but that there is "a chance" Phillips would play if Whiltow is unavailable.
If true freshman Phillips does end up in a game, Stoops is encouraged by his practice performance.
"He's good and comfortable," Stoops said. "Seems like he's got one of those personalities where he doesn't get too worked up about anything. Of course, that's easier said than done on the practice field, right? With quarterbacks, you never really know until you get them out there in game situations and see how it goes and all that."
Although they're figuring out the backup quarterback situation, the staff would prefer they don't have to make those decisions.
"It would be really nice to have (Whitlow) start a game and finish a game," Stoops said, "unless we decide to take him out -- for good reasons."