John Clay: Jalen Whitlow's stock rises, but defense a concern

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistAugust 13, 2013 

Jalen Whitlow at practice during UK Football Fan Day at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, Ky., on Aug. 9, 2013.

PABLO ALCALA — palcala@herald-leader.com Buy Photo

Random notes (heavy on the UK football):

■ Two UK true freshmen making fall camp impacts: wide receiver Alex Montgomery and defensive end Jason Hatcher.

■ If you made me predict a starting quarterback today, I'd go with Jalen Whitlow.

■ The staff still seems to be concerned about quarterback Maxwell Smith's durability.

■ Remember, this UK defense was dead last in the SEC in third-down defense. Improvement has to start there.

■ Mark Stoops said a goal is for the defense to force four three-and-outs a game. Without the benefit of a turnover, that happened in one game last year. Against Samford.

■ John Schlarman just needs five offensive linemen. But can he find five? And can he put them in the right spots? Depth will be a concern.

■ Best news Stoops received so far this fall was that juco defensive back Nate Willis is eligible.

■ Watching the frantic pace of the UK Fan Day open practice on Friday night, I felt like a slouch for just standing on the sideline.

■ Friday night, it appeared that juco transfer wideout Javess Blue can get separation.

■ Maybe it's all in my head from reading the stories about UK's high-performance coach Erik Korem over the summer, but many of the returnees just look bigger and more muscular than a year ago.

■ Word is Western Kentucky quarterback Demarcus Smith, the former Seneca star and Central Florida signee, has come on to challenge spring starter Brandon Doughty.

I wonder if Bobby Petrino will really go with a quarterback who is known as more of a runner. Then again, Stefan LeFors, one of Petrino's former quarterbacks at Louisville, knew how to turn it up field.

■ So just before the start of football, Jason Dufner wins the last golf major, the PGA. And Dufner is an Auburn grad. And Auburn is an SEC school. You see where I'm going with this.

■ Steve Spurrier questions publicly whether Jadeveon Clowney will have to sit out South Carolina's opener with a shoulder problem, and suddenly the freakish defensive end is back at practice. The Ol' Ball Coach still has it.

■ Louisville canceling the autograph session of its Fan Day this Sunday at Papa John's seems an overreaction, but perhaps you can't be too careful in the current environment.

■ This just in: Johnny Manziel's signature is on the Declaration of Independence.

■ This is disturbing: Chris Berman will again call one of the opening Monday Night Football games on ESPN.

■ Point guard Quentin Snider de-committed from Louisville. Shooting guard James Blackmon Jr. de-committed from Indiana. I guess guys really do have commitment issues.

■ Sure, Andrew Albers will come back to reality. The ex-UK pitcher and current Minnesota Twin can't keep up his unbelievable MLB debut — 171⁄3 innings of shutout baseball. But he should love it while it lasts.

■ If the Reds can hold on to the No. 2 wild card spot, the fact that they have to use a No. 1 starter in a sudden-death game isn't really that big a deal. All five Reds starters — six if you count the injured Johnny Cueto — are about the same. The Reds' biggest problem continues to be scoring runs.

■ Jay Bilas, who clowned the NCAA over Johnny Manziel last week, says the NCAA Tournament would be better with fewer Cinderellas and more power-conference teams.

Oh well, you can't be right all the time.

■ Did you see where a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader saw an Oklahoma State football player on TV who she thought was cute, set out to meet him and now the two are dating?

As one of my Facebook friends said: It's about time an attractive person on TV caught a break.

John Clay: (859) 231-3226. Email: jclay@herald-leader.com. Twitter: @johnclayiv. Blog: Johnclay.bloginky.com.

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