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Newton likely QB starter; Fidler, Cobb impress Brooks

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_DSC2462.jpgFair or unfair, head coach Rich Brooks said true freshman Morgan Newton will probably make his second consecutive start at quarterback Saturday against Louisiana-Monroe.

The decision comes after junior Will Fidler replaced Newton midway through the second half of the Auburn game, leading UK to yet another fourth-quarter comeback, its 11th since 2006. Brooks said the decision to start Newton is probably "not fair" to Fidler, but said he thinks it's the right thing to do for his football team.

"It'll probably be Morgan Newton again," Brooks said. "Again, that's probably not fair to Will for what he did in the fourth quarter, but I kind of think if things aren't going well, it's better to bring an experienced hand off the bench than it is an inexperienced hand off the bench."

Brooks said Fidler would probably see time in the first half regardless of how Newton is playing, but he said they have to start throwing the ball better.

Last week, Brooks decided to start Newton ahead of Fidler early in the week - although he kept that secret to himself - because of an apparent recurring injury in Fidler's throwing arm. Fidler was able to play Saturday, but Brooks admitted it was probably the "ultimate slap in the face" to Fidler to start a true freshman over him.

As Fidler has done time and time again, he handled the situation like a veteran and did his job.

"I couldn't be prouder of Will Fidler if he was my own son," Brooks said. "He's been through a lot here. It hasn't gone his way, so to speak, but every day he comes out there and works and competes and does everything he can to make it right and to help this team."

Brooks called both this week's and last week's decision a tough one to make, but he said he made it because he thinks it's the right choice for the upcoming game and the future.

"He's handled all of that with absolute class," Brooks said of Fidler. "He's one of the toughest guys on our football team. He's never been afraid to pull the ball down. He's not one of those quarterbacks who is going to hook slide or look for the sideline. He's going to look to run you over. He's got a good arm. I'm very hopeful that this experience in the last two games will help him become a more consistent playmaker because he is just an outstanding young man."

Fidler was 4-of-9 for 36 yards in relief duty, including his first career rushing touchdown.

Newton started the game against Auburn, going 5-of-13 for 39 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

"I think Newton did remarkably well with his poise early in the game, when you'd think he might be a little bit more nervous taking a snap, doing the wrong thing in the wrong time. He handled himself from a poise standpoint pretty well," Brooks said.

Newton struggled with his accuracy and poise as the game wore on, but Brooks saw enough to make Newton the starter for Louisiana-Monroe.

Of course, Brooks noted that neither of their performances would have counted for as much had wide receiver/quarterback Randall Cobb not entered in the Wildcat package to spark the UK comeback.

Cobb, who carried the ball 12 times for a career-high 109 yards and one touchdown, primarily from the Wildcat, led UK's late-game charge with a 61-yard run and a 4-yard touchdown scamper.

"Randall is Randall," Brooks said. "The question is how much can you do that with Randall. He's again hobbled a little bit this week, so we have to be a little more careful, but he is a just a spectacular competitive playmaker. ... He's just a great football player."

Brooks said he's never had a player with Cobb's abilities.

"I've had a lot of undersized running backs. Locke would be one of them," Brooks said. "I've had some guys at Oregon that were spectacular in that way, too, but not with the same athletic skills that Randall possesses and the exuberance and the leadership capabilities and the personality and the All-American smile.

"You'd be glad to see your daughter bring him into your house. This guy is the whole package."

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