Coach Brooks and coach Phillips have backed Hartline all the way, saying he was Kentucky's best chance to win the game at quarterback. But now with Hartline out for the foreseeable future, the staff must weigh their options.
Fidler came into this season as the number two quarterback after struggling most of his career to earn that backup role. As a high schooler Fidler was an all-state prospect out of Henderson (Ky.) throwing for 9395 yards and 92 touchdowns in his career.
Fidler enrolled at UK early in order to get a head-start and participate in spring practice prior to his freshman year. Unfortunately shoulder injuries hampered his development and this is the first time that Fidler has been truly healthy.
Fidler does have a strong arm and a knowledge of the offense. But the biggest questions are his decision making and his lack of experience. It appears likely that Fidler will be the first option when the Cats head to Auburn next weekend, but he won't receive all the snaps.
Cobb was one of the hero's of the South Carolina game racking up 229 yards of total offense, all by way of his legs. Cobb has a big arm, and many fans have asked to see Cobb replace Hartline at the quarterback position permanently. But the coaches view Cobb as a wide receiver and utility player.
In high school Cobb threw for over 3600 yards and 47 touchdowns during his junior and senior seasons with only six interceptions. Cobb's only knock as a quarterback is his size. Generously listed at 5-foot-11 by UK, Cobb admittedly has problems seeing over UK's big offensive line. Without that vision, Cobb would have to run a lot of rollout plays and spend quite a bit of time running the "Wildcat" offense.
Kentucky's offense was fairly prolific during the waning moments of the South Carolina game, when Cobb was running the show. However South Carolina was not completely prepared for the Wildcat offense and was caught off guard on several occasions. Look for Cobb to run the Wildcat quite a bit at Auburn this weekend, but still maintain his role as a wide receiver and return specialist.
One of the players that many see as the future of the Wildcat program is Morgan Newton. A dual threat prospect, many view Newton as a player capable of running the tradition pro-style offense that coach Brooks employs, but also able to run the "Wildcat" offense. Scout rated Newton as the number six quarterback in the country last season and for good reason. He racked up over 3700 yards of total offense and 48 total touchdowns in his senior year.
Many people expected Newton to come in and compete for a starting role right away due to his physical abilities. But learning the complex offense does take time and Newton also has to learn to read SEC defenses. Coach Brooks has been hesitant to officially redshirt Newton and has left him as the third string quarterback all season.
With Hartline out, Newton will receive more reps during practice with the first team. With Kentucky on the road at Auburn this weekend, it's unlikely that we'd see Newton on the field doing anything other than warming up. However when Kentucky returns home to face Louisiana Monroe, Newton may be able to earn some playing time.
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