WLEX's wonderful Mary Jo Perino talked with Joker Phillips yesterday about the planned starting QB for the Music City Bowl. Joker is planning on starting Freshmen Morgan Newton over Junior (and still recovering from surgery) Mike Hartline:
Mike Hartline has been back at practice, still experiencing a little soreness in his knee. He is dying to get back on the field and perhaps relive some of his Liberty Bowl heroics. While Joker hopes he's on the mend, he doesn't see anyone starting on December 27th in Nashville other than Morgan Newton.
"I hope he's able to play but all these snaps that the young guy is getting, he's getting better and better and the thing we've been focusing on is throwing the ball and he's doing a good job of throwing the football."
You could tell he was beaming like a proud papa when talking about Newton.
"We have a freshman quarterback who was 5-2. You look across the country at true freshman quarterbacks. Michigan 5-7. Southern Cal 8-4, which is not Southern Cal. That is what you usually get from a freshman quarterback and ours was 5-2."
Despite Joker's confidence, Newton's on-field goodness has not impressed the media. CBS Sports' Sports Xchange report seems to favor the return of Hartline:
Kentucky could have a viable passing-game option when it meets Clemson in the Music City Bowl.
Quarterback Mike Hartline was on the field when the Wildcats began their bowl practice sessions on Dec. 12. Kentucky has lacked a downfield passing attack since Hartline injured his left knee against South Carolina on Oct. 10.
Freshman Morgan Newton passed for just 608 yards in seven starts after Hartline's injury, so the possibility of having Hartline available for at least spot duty is intriguing -- particularly against a Clemson secondary that features DeAndre McDaniel (eight interceptions) and Rashard Hall (six).