New Kentucky QB making progress
Posted: Tuesday, April 12, 2011 3:18 pm
LEXINGTON (AP) — Kentucky coach Joker Phillips says starting quarterback Morgan Newton is still struggling with the nuances of sitting atop the depth chart but is still further along in the development process than his predecessors.
Newton struggled putting together drives during the first scrimmage of spring practice on Saturday, but Phillips didn’t lay the blame solely at the feet of the junior.
Phillips said Newton’s problems had as much to do with Kentucky’s defense and a case of the drops by the team’s receivers. Phillips estimated receivers had at least six uncontested drops during the first 15 passing plays of the scrimmage.
Despite the issues, Phillips said Newton has been reading defenses well. In that regard, Phillips said he’s ahead of schedule compared to former starting quarterbacks Andre Woodson and Mike Hartline.
It will also benefit Newton when, later in the spring, the coaches allow Newton the freedom to run. Newton’s mobility is among his biggest strengths, and Phillips said the defense won’t be able to guard against the pass every play if it’s worried Newton will tuck and run.
With the quarterbacks settled in the pocket, Phillips said the defense was “dominant” during the scrimmage, finally catching up to speed after spending the first few weeks of spring practice installing the schemes of new co-defensive coordinator Rick Minter.
Particularly benefiting from the new defense is rising senior Winston Guy, who switched from strong safety to linebacker at the beginning of the spring practices.
Guy was Kentucky’s second-leading tackler in 2010 but Phillips said his instincts, athleticism and hard-hitting nature translate better to linebacker.
“Any time you move somebody closer to the ball, you get faster so I think that’s helped us,” Phillips said.
Kentucky has five practices left before its Blue-White spring game on April 23, offensive coordinator Randy Sanders expects to have a better feel on the depth chart by then.
“When we get through spring practice as coaches, we pretty much know who we’re going to count on, who we’re not and which freshmen we’re going to plan on working with,” Sanders said. “I told them, we’re going to have to work with some freshmen backs and some freshmen receivers from what I saw today.”