WKYT | Lexington, Kentucky | Sports

Brooks not quitting on Hartline

Rich Brooks isn't giving up on quarterback
Mike Hartline. Not even close.
The Kentucky coach said he's sticking with the junior for the
foreseeable future despite a lackluster performance in a 38-20 loss
to No. 3 Alabama on Saturday.
Hartline completed 17 of 31 passes for 168 yards against the
nation's No. 2 ranked defense and threw three interceptions, two of
which sailed straight into the arms of an Alabama defender after
horrible misreads.
It wasn't the kind of play the Wildcats (2-2, 0-2 SEC) need
heading into a crucial game against No. 25 South Carolina (4-1,
1-1). Yet Brooks has no plans to put in backup Will Fidler or go to
true freshmen Morgan Newton or Ryan Mossakowski.
"(Hartline) has got to throw better and he's got to make some
plays and he can't make bad plays like he did," Brooks said. "He
knows that."
He'll have to if the Wildcats want to end nearly two decades of
futility against South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, who is 16-0
against Kentucky in his career. He often used to use the program as
a punchline while coaching at Florida.
Spurrier has been a bit more magnanimous at South Carolina. He
pointed to a win over a ranked Kentucky team two years ago as a
turning point for the program, though his mastery of the Wildcats
remains a bit of a mystery to Brooks.
"South Carolina has had their way with us," Brooks said.
"They have had struggles with other teams that we have beaten.
It's not something I can put my exact finger on. But the one thing
I do know is that we can't make mistakes."
There were plenty of miscues to choose from against the Crimson
Tide. The Wildcats were flagged seven times for 78 yards and their
four turnovers led to 17 Alabama points.
Fans booed several times in the second half as the Crimson Tide
turned a close game into a rout and spent most of their venom on
Hartline.
It's a part of the game, Brooks allowed, but that doesn't mean
he's wild about it.
"I don' think they were booing him as much as they were booing
me for not replacing him, so be it," Brooks said. "That's life in
the SEC, in big-time football right now. I hate it ... (but) they
can cheer, then can boo, they can jump up and down, blow snot. I
don't know. They can do whatever they want, I guess."
It doesn't mean Brooks is going to make a move, though he did
allow that Mossakowski and Newton haven't progressed as hoped. That
isn't exactly a bad thing.
"Just because we aren't throwing the young guys to the wolves
does not mean they are not really good players, because they are,"
he said. "We just need to make sure that they are getting every
opportunity to be successful when they go in there, and if it
happens that they have to go in maybe before that time, then so be
it. But at this point it doesn't make a lot of sense to do that."
Wide receiver Randall Cobb came out in support of Hartline after
the Alabama loss, and there doesn't appear to be a lack of
confidence in the offense.
"I think everybody has confidence in everything we're doing,"
said safety Calvin Harrison. "We just need to keep working hard
and execute."
It won't be easy against the Gamecocks. South Carolina is ranked
14th in the country on defense and the offense is starting to show
signs of life. Kentucky will have to play without All-American
cornerback Trevard Lindley, who has a high ankle sprain.
"This is a big challenge," Brooks said. "This is a game that
is critically important if we want to move up in the SEC East
standings. It is just as important to South Carolina as it is to
us. They are 1-1 and we are 0-2. This will go a long way for the
final rankings of the SEC East. So it's a big, big game."


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