It appears that Patrick Towles has been cleared to practice (per his Twitter), and will hit the field this week. Conventional wisdom would favor him not being 100% just yet, but the real question is this:
Is a sub-100% Patrick Towles better than Morgan Newton or Jalen Whitlow?
The answer is an indisputable ‘YES!’
I’ve been a big fan of Jalen Whitlow’s ever since his recruitment heated up last winter, but I don’t think most of the fan base sees him as the answer at quarterback. The guy is an athlete without a doubt, but he didn’t even start under center for his high school team as a senior, so I don’t know that UK fans should even have those expectations for him anyway. He was an integral part of his teams offense, and finished the season with 644 rushing yards, 165 receiving yards, and 466 passing yards. Basically, Whitlow was a (collegiate) Randall Cobb clone in high school, yet he’s being expected to play like a true quarterback.
But that was high school…
Through his freshman season at UK (to this point), Whitlow has thrown for 368 yards, rushed for 149, and caught a 33 yard reception. As a quarterback though, he has only completed 46.6% of his passes and is averaging a measly 61.3 passing yards a game. possibly more concerning, he only has 1 touchdown pass this season despite playing in six of Kentucky’s eight games. So once again, Whitlow has proven to be a playmaker if not a quarterback.
Newton’s track record over the past three seasons speaks for itself, so I won’t beat a dead horse there.
It’s Towles-time for Kentucky this weekend. The high-profile freshman completed 5-6 for 71 yards and a touchdown in his only college action this season and was a lauded high school player. The talk of trying to preserve Towles’ redshirt is pointless, as he’s been cleared to play this week. Once cleared, he no longer qualifies for a medical redshirt anyway. Now it’s time for the staff to go all in with him and see what they (or the next staff) have. I truly believe that Whitlow will play a huge part in Kentucky’s offense in the future, but not playing Towles and asking Whitlow to continually play of of position is only hurting the development of both players.
The staff will play Towles and play him extensively if they want to have a real shot at beating Missouri.