Phillips says UK freshmen quarterbacks ready for Mississippi State

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The University of Kentucky football team hit the practice fields Wednesday to continue its preparation for Saturday’s showdown with No. 19/20 Mississippi State at 12:21 p.m. ET inside Commonwealth Stadium.

The talk around the team this week has been the quarterback position and Wednesday was no different. Phillips spoke after practice about the two true freshman quarterbacks that will take the field for Kentucky on Saturday. Phillips seemed pleased with how both practiced Wednesday.

“Physically they look good,” Phillips said. “They both can throw the ball and they both had bright eyes today. Those guys are excited about having an opportunity. We will put them out there and see what they can do.”

Phillips said one of the biggest keys for both players will be getting them in comfortable situations and play calls. Phillips said both players have to be able to sell the play call to the other players on the field, which means they need to be confident.

“You have to have communication between the coaches and players so we will ask them what they like and what they dislike and then go from there,” Phillips said. “The quarterback has to be able to sell. He has to be able to get in the huddle and say, ‘This is going to work.’ That has a lot to do with it. It might not be the right call for that defense, but the quarterback has to feel comfortable enough to get in there and sell it.”

Although Phillips and Co. saw a lot of Whitlow last week in game action, the jury is still out as how Towles will handle the speed of the game in the Southeastern Conference. Phillips said the no-huddle, shotgun style will help Towles because it’s similar to the offense he ran in high school.

“He has pretty good control of the ball and knows where it is going,” Phillips said about Towles. “The thing is getting him in the game and seeing what he can do and how accurate he can be in a game. A game is a lot faster than practice. We are going against scouts right now and he does get a few reps with ones-against-ones but we are mostly going against scouts. The game will be a lot faster on Saturday and we will get to see what he can do and go from there.”

Both Whitlow and Towles will have their hands full on Saturday with a talented Mississippi State defense. The Bulldogs lead the nation in turnover margin, including nine interceptions this season. Phillips said the MSU secondary, which is full of veterans, is the main reason why.

“You can’t stare down receivers, you have to anticipate receivers getting in and out of their breaks and get it out of your hands,” Phillips said. “You can’t throw down the middle late. Those guys have nine interceptions and lead the nation in turnover margin. A lot of that has to do with their secondary.”

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