Cats plan to start 'dinged up' Whitlow vs. Alabama State

jsmith3@herald-leader.comOctober 28, 2013 

  • Tennessee at Kentucky

    When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30

    TV: ESPNU

    Records: Kentucky 2-9 (0-7 SEC); Tennessee 4-7 (1-6)

The Southeastern Conference is filled with tangible examples like Johnny Manziel and Connor Shaw: Quarterbacks willing to play through pain and lead their teams to victory.

Coach Mark Stoops is hoping to add Jalen Whitlow to that list this week when the Cats take on Alabama State on Saturday night at Commonwealth Stadium.

The Kentucky coach also confirmed that true freshman Reese Phillips will be in the bullpen as an option should the need arise.

At his weekly news conference, Stoops said that Whitlow, who suffered an ankle sprain against Alabama on Oct. 12 and played sparingly at Mississippi State last Thursday, will be back as UK's starting quarterback.

"He'd better," Stoops said. "Yeah, he's going."

Also, add "dinged up" shoulder to the laundry list of injuries for Whitlow, who seemed to have turned the corner in his full game at South Carolina, before being sidelined by the ankle sprain.

"It's an AC joint," Stoops said. "He'll be sore. He'll be out there practicing today."

At halftime of the loss to Mississippi State, Stoops went to Whitlow and asked whether he could play against the Bulldogs. Despite being hobbled in warmups, the UK sophomore was able to lead UK on a five-play, 52-yard scoring drive.

Whitlow went back in on the Cats' final drive but was stopped on a third-down run play.

"We needed him, the team needed him to step up and play," Stoops said on Thursday night. "And he said, 'All right,' didn't hesitate. He was ready to go and went in there and I thought he did a nice job and did what he could."

Stoops is going to ask the quarterback to do more of the same, starting on Saturday.

He's used the play of guys like South Carolina's Shaw and Texas A&M's Manziel as examples.

"I've always admired how tough he was, and you can see the leadership and you can see the way his team responds to him, to him giving that kind of effort," Stoops said of Shaw. "Johnny Manziel ... goes out and plays banged up, and he's not going to feel perfect. But he goes out and plays, and I think people respond to that. People rally around that."

If Whitlow goes down again, it's not clear whether his backup will be fellow sophomore Maxwell Smith, who started the Mississippi State loss, or Phillips.

Phillips, who had planned to redshirt along with sophomore Patrick Towles, will get "some reps in practice," Stoops said.

When asked if Phillips or Smith would be the first option off the Cats' bench Stoops said he didn't know.

"We'll work on it this week; he's definitely going to be an option," Stoops said of the true freshman from Chattanooga, Tenn.

When asked what Phillips brings to the mix, Stoops said: "He's always done a nice job of managing the game, going back to the spring game, all the scrimmages he's been in. ... If nothing else, if we get ourselves with certain plays and checks and run– pass options, if we just execute the call, we give ourselves a chance. We're not even doing that at times, and that's frustrating, let alone throws or different things.

"It's just putting ourselves, putting our team in a position to be successful with decisions. I think he does a nice job of protecting the football, and I think he does a nice job with his decision making."

Kentucky's game with Missouri on Nov. 9 is set for a noon kickoff and will be shown on either ESPNU or FSN, the league announced on Monday.

Lowery will finish season

Kentucky safety Ashely Lowery will be able to finish out the football season without any resolution to his driving under the influence case pending in Georgia.

An employee of the White County (Ga.) district attorney office said on Monday that Lowery's case is not on the Nov. 5 docket. The next possible date for him to answer to the charges will be well after the football season, though that date has not yet been determined.

Lowery, a 6-foot-1, 219-pound safety, has started in all seven games for UK this season and is 10th on the team in tackles with 26. He also has three pass breakups and one recovered fumble.

Updates on ex-UK players now at Ala. State

Brothers Khalid and Kadeem Thomas, who were thrown off UK's team in July, will return to Commonwealth Stadium this week as players for Alabama State.

Shortly after dismissing the brothers, who were cited for alleged possession of a controlled substance at the UK Arboretum in July, Stoops was asked how their charges were different from Lowery's pending DUI charge.

"There have been some other incidents," Stoops said without being more specific. "With us, we have a guideline and some policies and there are some strikes involved."

One of the strikes may have involved a citation at 1:11 a.m. on June 16 where Kadeem Thomas was cited for going 14 miles over the speed limit on Mentelle Park, off Richmond Road.

The citation said "upon contact, the vehicle had a strong odor of marijuana. Passenger cited for possession of marijuana."

Kadeem Thomas has played in seven games and had three tackles for Alabama State this season. Khalid Thomas has played in four games this season, rushing 13 times for 53 yards, with most of those yards coming on a 25-yard run. He also has one tackle.

Herald-Leader staff writer Justin Madden contributed to this report.

Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241. Twitter: @jenheraldleader. Blog: ukfootball.bloginky.com.


UK FOOTBALL

Alabama State at Kentucky | When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday | Records: Alabama State 6-2, Kentucky 1-6 | Radio: WLAP-AM 630; WBUL-FM 98.1

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