LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Jalen Whitlow's motivation to beat top-ranked Alabama Saturday night goes beyond finally becoming Kentucky's starting quarterback.
The Alabama native is looking forward to taking every snap in Kentucky's upset bid against the Crimson Tide, winners of three of the last four national championships.
Whitlow had been alternating at quarterback with Maxwell Smith. The Wildcats (1-4, 0-2 Southeastern Conference) needed one of them to take control of the offense, which Whitlow has steadily done through his ability to run and throw the ball.
The sophomore used both skills last Saturday, rallying Kentucky from a 27-7 deficit to within a touchdown of No. 13 South Carolina before the Wildcats lost 35-28.
The gutsy performance solidified Whitlow's starting spot, just in time for him to welcome the Crimson Tide (5-0, 2-0) to Lexington.
"Growing up, you'd hear about Alabama, so it's a big game," said the Prattville, Ala., native, adding that he's preparing for the nation's dominant team just like any other opponent.
"I'm just coming out here and trying to practice and do it the best of my ability and help the team win. I'm not looking at it any other way."
Whitlow and the Wildcats face a tall task in their first game since 2009 against the Crimson Tide. Kentucky hasn't beaten Alabama since 1997 and is 2-35-1 all-time against the Tide.
The quarterback meanwhile will have his hands full trying to get something going against one of the SEC's top defenses. But finally knowing who's going to take every snap might help Kentucky's pass-oriented Air Raid offense eventually take off.
After using both quarterbacks most of the season with them sometimes alternating snap to snap, the coaching staff decided on a permanent starter for last week's game. Whitlow responded by going 17-of-24 for 178 yards passing and two touchdowns, and rushing for another TD against the Gamecocks.
"What's he done is calm down, first of all, and I think he has more confidence going in games because of his preparation," Wildcats offensive coordinator Neal Brown said of Whitlow, who started the final seven games last season after Smith's season-ending ankle injury.
Outpatient ROBOTIC HYSTERECTOMY. Trust an experienced Robotic Surgeon.