TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama coach Nick Saban remembers taking a look at Kentucky dual-threat quarterback Jalen Whitlow coming out of Prattville (Ala.) High in 2012 and "really thought he was a good player."
The Crimson Tide ended up signing Alec Morris and Whitlow landed at Kentucky. Two years later, Whitlow has a chance to show the top-ranked Tide what he can do on the field. He has emerged as the No. 1 option in the Wildcats two-quarterback system along with Maxwell Smith, who is a more traditional drop back passer.
"Every game he's played a little bit better and he really, really played well in the South Carolina game," Saban said. "He's a very good athlete. They do a lot of quarterback run-type stuff, which he does a fantastic job of because he's a very good runner and I think their leading rusher overall."
Whitlow threw for 178 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 69 yards and another score in a 35-28 loss to the Gamecocks.
"He missed some things; he missed some throws, but he did some very good things, as well," Kentucky coach Mark Stoops told reporters on Monday. "It was nice to see him compete. It was nice to see him run. He ran hard
at times. He ran physical at times and he made some better decisions. So I think overall, that was a real positive, and it's good to see and I think it gives us a little confidence moving forward."
While he has publicly endorsed Whitlow, Stoops has shown he's willing to play both quarterbacks and stick with the hot hand so the Tide is making sure they are fully prepared.
"Yes, we're preparing for both of them because playing against them you might see both so we're going to have certain plays so when the running quarterback is in and have certain plays and formations for the throwing quarterback," Tide linebacker C.J. Mosley said. "Pretty much whatever the situation is like the down and distance all depends on what we call."
Added safety Landon Collins on slowing the Wildcats' quarterbacks "We just have to play sound defense. That's what we've been playing the last few weeks. Once we do that, we're playing against ourselves, really."
For Mosley, the Wildcats' offense presents challenges the Tide has yet to face this season.
"They can go fast ball when they want to," Mosley said. "They like to spread things out and they get behind the center and run the ball, so it's not like they're going to be fast ball like A&M, trying to get 80-90 plays on you. They're good at what they do, and have an athletic quarterback. So we've got to make sure that guys stick to their assignments and keep them contained."