NCAA Football

Kentucky Needs to be Smart in Naming Hartline's Replacement

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Mike Hartline is stupid.

He messed up really bad.

After by far the best season of his career he made a dumb, dumb mistake and has to miss his last college football game because of it.

It was the correct punishment but it could not have come at a worst time.

This game is a definite must-win. A win prevents a losing record, sends the program into next season with a lot of positive momentum and keeps the ignorant and vocal minority of the fan base off of Joker’s back.

However, a loss could prove devastating. We lose this game and we finish with a sub-.500 mark for the first time since 2005 and those Randy Shannon rumors start heating up for a different position than Co-Defensive Coordinator.

Mike Hartline was going to be a crucial piece in getting the ‘W’. As the most experienced and most confident quarterback on the roster, we stood a great chance of victory with him at the helm, especially considering that Pitt’s secondary has been suspect this season and their best pass rusher was placed on IR earlier this year.

Now we’re left scrambling to answer the question of “Who starts?” about 8 months before the coaching staff planned to make that choice.

The selection will definitely set the tone for next year in Lexington because the chosen quarterback should maintain his position going into summer and fall practices.

At this point, it seems like Morgan Newton will be picked as the next QB for the Cats. He has more experience than Mossakowski and according to what Joker said after practice a couple of weeks ago, he has a stronger arm.

If Morgan is selected, what does that mean for Moss? He has one more year of eligibility than Morgan thanks to his freshman, redshirt season but will he stick around to start for only one season in Commonwealth? This isn’t a Tebow-Brantley situation where the starting quarterback is phenomenally better than his backup. Moss was competing for the job at the start of the season and will be competing for it now. He may take his remaining years of eligibility somewhere that offers a greater opportunity for playing time.

Now all of this is simply conjecture. I do not see practice so I can’t say for certain that Morgan will be picked to start. If I’m wrong and Moss gets the nod, the same question applies to Morgan. Will he leave? If Moss is given the green light for the bowl game and the upcoming years that would afford Morgan no opportunity to get on the field, barring injury.

It will be a tough decision for either young man.

There is a silver lining in all of this though. A quarterback of the future selection in December means we should see a more polished product on the field in September than if the decision occurred in August. We have a month of practice time until the bowl game and after that winter workouts, spring practices and then two-a-days will have a different feel to them.

That’s an entire year in which the new quarterback will be able to establish himself as a leader, increase his rapport with his first-team running mates and abolish any factions that may have grown in the locker room as a result of a long quarterback controversy.

That’s a luxury that Mike Hartline was not afforded at the beginning of this season.

Speaking of Hartline, what will his role be in this month’s practices and bowl game?

He made leaps and bounds in his play from last year to this year. Hopefully, he can go to practice and coach up his peers. His interactions with them should be able to grow their confidence, because that was certainly his greatest area of improvement.

He showed a lot of comfort in the system and was able to read defenses and check to different plays if he didn’t like what he saw. That kind of knowledge and comfort would be a great boon for a team starting a young quarterback.

Even if he doesn’t improve their play on the field, his actions and subsequent punishment should serve to improve their conduct off of it.

Morgan and Ryan, just don’t be stupid.