Monday, December 20, 2010
Stepping up in the bowls: Kentucky
By Chris Low
Kentucky makes its fifth straight postseason appearance, taking on Pittsburgh in the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham, Ala.
The Wildcats (6-6) lost several close games this season and failed to take advantage of a down year in the Eastern Division. But by winning over the Panthers, they could ensure their fifth straight winning season. The last time that happened in Lexington was the 1950s.
Who's going to step up for the Wildcats?
Sophomore quarterback Morgan Newton: Kentucky coach Joker Phillips made a statement that reverberated throughout the entire football program when he suspended senior quarterback Mike Hartline for the bowl game. Hartline, coming off his best season at Kentucky, was arrested on disorderly conduct and alcohol intoxication charges. It was a tough decision for Phillips, but he elected to sit Hartline down for his final game. That means Newton will get another shot to lead the team after finishing up last season as the starter when Hartline injured his knee. There's also a chance that redshirt freshman Ryan Mossakowski could see some time, although Newton is up first. The most important thing he needs to remember is that he doesn't have to do it by himself. Randall Cobb was second nationally this season with 2,192 all-purpose yards and was tied for the SEC lead with 79 catches. The guy on the other side of the field from Cobb also had a big season. Senior Chris Matthews led the team with nine touchdown catches, and senior running back Derrick Locke should be as healthy as he's been for the bowl game. Newton has playmakers all around him. Being smart, protecting the football and getting Cobb, Matthews and Locke the ball will be his role.