I wasn't surprised that Mike Hartline won the starting quarterback job with Kentucky, but I was disappointed that Morgan Newton didn't improve enough during the off season to beat Hartline out for the job.
After the Cats win over Louisville, I now see why Hartline won the job.
I think this was one of Hartline's best performances as UK's quarterback. I think his performance last year against South Carolina down at Columbia before he got hurt was his best game. Today may rival that performance. He didn't do anyting "fancy". He didn't show up all over the highlights, and he may not be in all the headlines.
Hartline showed some poise in an incredibly hostile environment. To be the season opener against your hated arch-rival, with new coaches on both sidelines, the game was bubbling over with emotion. Hartline handled it. Hartline didn't get rattled. He kept his emotions in check. He handled it like a senior quarterback should handle it, and like a senior quarterback is expected to handle it.
I think he made some good decisions. Being the first game of the season, teams will make mistakes. Quarterbacks will make mistakes. Hartline did a good job with his decision making. He "felt" his way away from pressure. He threw it away when he was supposed to. He didn't force it. Even when Hartline was chased out of the pocket, he was continually looking downfield. I don't think he's always done that. In the past, he would often get chased out, and then just dump it over the sidelines. In this game, even before he threw it away, he was looking for somebody.
That's maturity as a quarterback.
That's a smarter quarterback than we saw in year's past.
With targets to throw to like Chris Matthews, LaRod King, Randall Cobb, Matt Roark and Jordan Aumiller, Hartline has a lot of weapons to look for in his aresnal. This are also some BIG targets to throw to. The UK receiving corp has some tall, lanky guys that can be hard for defensive backs to cover.
It should also be noted that UK's young and inexperienced offensive line was "better than advertised". Some of these guys were making their first ever collegiate starts. They did a great job of giving Hartline plenty of time to run the offense. Hartline didn't get sacked. I'm not so sure he even got touched before releasing the football. That's a good sign that most Cats fans were worried about.
Four straight wins over Louisville.....and Mike Hartline has been a part of each and every won of them.