It was a tough game to watch in Swamp today, as the Kentucky Wildcats dropped a contest to the Florida Gators, and now sit at 1-3 and 0-1 in the SEC with South Carolina, Mississippi State, and Georgia on the horizon. The Cats were very competitive for the first-half, and out side of their quarterback play, it may have been the best half of football UK has played all year. They contained the Florida offense and didn’t allow them to convert a 3rd-down until the end of the first-quarter, and the Gators had only two 3rd-down conversions and 107 yard of total offense midway through the second-quarter. But the ineffectiveness of Morgan Newton left the defense on the field much too long for a Florida offense to not eventually take advantage of. Joker topped it off by continuing to play Newton until the 4th-quarter, when he finally put Jalen Witlow in on his own 5-yard line.
So why did Joker Phillips keep Newton in for so long? Did he have that little faith in Jalen Whitlow? It was evident Newton clearly is worse than he was last year, likely the result of the offseason labrum surgery he had on his throwing shoulder that he reportedly has yet to fully recover from. I blame Joker for not recognizing this sooner and having either Whitlow or Patrick Towles more prepared to take over the offense, at least in a limited role. Newton’s NCAA pass efficiency rating in the second quarter was -49.9. Surely they could have done better than that abysmal performance and given the Cats a better chance to be competitive, something they was simply impossible to do with Newton at the helm.
I’m not putting this on Newton though. He’s a great person and has been the best kind of teammate you can ask for this year. He hasn’t sulked or been down on himself for the situation he’s been put in, having to sit on the bench for his final year of college football. He’s been as supportive as any of his Wildcat teammates, and should be commended for such, not for being put in a situation he should have never been put in. To allow him to be
I put this all on Joker and offensive coordinator Randy Sanders. They should have been competent enough to recognize Newton’s deficiencies earlier(like maybe when they recruited him to play QB), and formulated a better backup plan. If that backup plan was simply handing the ball off 60 times(they had 120 rushing yards on 23 carries in the first-half, a 5.1 ypc average), then go with it. Don’t make Newton go through one of the worst performances in NCAA history if he clearly is not suited to throw. I’ve been a Joker supporter for a very long time now, but setting up a kid to fail like that is the last straw with me. There need to be changes in this staff immediately. Whether it be the offensive coordinator, or the head coach himself, something needs to change now so these kids can at least be put in batter situations than thy’re being put in right not. When you fail to prepare properly, you prepare to fail. That seems to be a theme all-too-familiar with this staff.