Coach Rich Brooks doesn't sound like he plans on tipping his hand as to whether Will Fidler or Morgan Newton will start at quarterback when Kentucky plays at Auburn on Saturday.
Both quarterbacks were made off-limits to the media this week, and Brooks said the starter might not be revealed until the game begins. Head coach of offense Joker Phillips wouldn't even address the quarterbacks, deferring all questions to Brooks.
The question of who should step in for injured starting quarterback Mike Hartline has been this week's hot topic among fans and media.
"I don't think they need the distraction of all the stuff that's going on," Brooks said when asked about silencing the QBs. "Besides, that gives you guys more stuff to write about and have fun with and do your polls on who should start. This is more fun for you than if I say 'so and so is starting.' I'm giving you some cannon fodder."
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Whoever gets the call will be making his first career start on the road in a tough Southeastern Conference environment. Two of UK's worst offensive performances of the past two decades came in similar situations, the first career starts of Andre Woodson and Tim Couch.
The Cats generated just 67 total yards in Couch's first start, a 65-0 wipeout at the hands of eventual national champion Florida in 1996.
Woodson made his first career start at Auburn in 2004, going 14-for-26 passing for 73 yards while being sacked seven times. UK finished with 110 yards of total offense and lost 42-10 to the Tigers, who finished 13-0 and No. 2 in the polls that year.
UK offensive coordinator Randy Sanders said he hopes the rest of the offense can take pressure off the new quarterback.
"I've always said for any quarterback, whether it's your first start or you've started 20 games, it's the other 10 guys around you," Sanders said. "That's what makes and breaks you. We need the other 10 guys to play well. If they do their job, then we can get the quarterbacks to do theirs and you have a chance to be successful."
Brooks said he's talked to both Fidler and Newton, and said he'll be looking for three things this week in practice: adjusting to the speed of the game, decision-making and making more positive plays than negative ones.
"You've got to be confident in the huddle, you've got to be confident at the line of scrimmage, and whether the play works or not, just like you have a short memory at corner, you have to have a short memory at quarterback," Brooks said. "You can't let one play affect the next one. We just talked about making sure we make good decisions and protect the football, and that we're not only going to do the best thing for us to win this football game, but to win enough games to take care of business this year."
Brooks said earlier this season that Newton was still trying to get a grasp of the offense and was a possible redshirt candidate. Now Newton is looking at the possibility of his first career start.
"He knows a heck of a lot more about what's going on than he did even a month ago," Brooks said.
When asked if it went against conventional wisdom to give a true freshman his first start in an SEC road game, Brooks said, "There's been nothing conventional about this week, last week or what's coming up."
Lanefski injures knee
Brooks said backup guard Jake Lanefski suffered a knee injury on Tuesday and might be sidelined for some time.
"We don't know the extent yet, but he may not play this week," Brooks said. "I'm afraid it's not going to be good news."