QB competition will continue after starter fails to emerge from Blue/White game


The UK football team lost to Alabama 38-20 at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2009. Photo by Adam Wolffbrandt

It was fitting the weather for Saturday’s Blue/White game was overcast. Following the last day of spring football, the competition for UK’s starting quarterback is still cloudy.

The Blue team defeated the White team 60-25 in a modified form of the scrimmage, whereby the offense (Blue) played against the defense (White) and scored points for things such as first downs, and the defense scored points for things such as three-and-outs.

But, more importantly, UK head coach Joker Phillips was not ready to announce who his starting quarterback was heading into the summer. The three-quarterback race among senior Mike Hartline, sophomore Morgan Newton and redshirt freshman Ryan Mossakowski will wage on.

“I think this (quarterback) competition is way too close to decide in April,” Phillips said. “We’ll carry this competition into August and hopefully we can come up with a decision quickly because we’ll need that guy to get a majority of the No. 1 snaps.”

Phillips said he would’ve liked to know who his man under center would be at the end of spring, but the uncertainty at the position isn’t concerning him right now.

“The reason I’m not disappointed is because I think we can win with all three of those guys,” Phillips said.

The three quarterbacks essentially received the same amount of playing time on Saturday. Hartline and Mossakowski led five offensive series while Newton led four.

The quarterbacks’ performances didn’t make Phillips’ decision any easier. Each showed flashes of brilliance at times but also committed some costly errors.

Hartline, who finished 11 of 24 for 124 yards, graded his performance as a “C-plus.”

“As far as execution today, it was sloppy,” Hartline said. “I let a few passes get away from me, and our receivers dropped a few passes … I hate to say this about the spring game, but it was probably our worst scrimmage of the three we’ve had.”

Hartline did connect on a 21-yard touchdown toss to wide receiver E.J. Fields in the corner of the end zone, but also threw an ill-advised pass down the sideline that was intercepted by linebacker Danny Trevathan on the offense’s first drive.

Newton, who finished 6 of 12 for 92 yards, kept several plays alive with his feet, including a 36-yard scamper. With the offense at the five-yard line, he under threw his receiver in the end zone, resulting in a Winston Guy interception to end the first half.

Mossakowski, who was sacked hard twice, finished with the most modest stat line of the three: 6 of 13 for 37 yards.

The three quarterbacks said they are using the competition as a means to get better because they are pushing each other every day.

“The drama is exhilarating,” Newton said.

In fact, the drama is only building as Phillips said the competition is a tight battle after Newton and Mossakowski closed the gap that Hartline had established earlier in the spring.

“Whoever gets (the starting job) I’m going to support 110 percent,” Mossakowski said. “We’re good friends, we’ve got a good relationship between all three of us, and that just makes it that much better.”

Former Cats selected in the NFL draft

Three players from last year’s team were drafted by NFL teams over the weekend.

On Friday, defensive tackle Corey Peters was drafted in the third round (83rd overall) by the Atlanta Falcons.

Then on Saturday, cornerback Trevard Lindley was taken in the fourth round (105th overall) by the Philadelphia Eagles, and fullback John Conner was a fifth-round pick (139th overall) by the New York Jets.

This marks the third consecutive year at least one Cat has been taken in the draft.