Whitlow, Manley to play quarterback this season

Jason+Howell+%7C+The+Daily+Eastern+News%0D%0A%0D%0ACoach+Kim+Dameron+gives+a+speech+to+his+players+at+the+end+of+practice+on+Thursday+near+O%27Brien+Field.++The+Panthers%27+first+football+game+is+Aug.+28+versus+the+Minnesota+Gophers.
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Whitlow, Manley to play quarterback this season

Jason Howell | The Daily Eastern News

Coach Kim Dameron gives a speech to his players at the end of practice on Thursday near O'Brien Field.  The Panthers' first football game is Aug. 28 versus the Minnesota Gophers.

Jason Howell | The Daily Eastern News Coach Kim Dameron gives a speech to his players at the end of practice on Thursday near O'Brien Field. The Panthers' first football game is Aug. 28 versus the Minnesota Gophers.

Jason Howell

Jason Howell | The Daily Eastern News Coach Kim Dameron gives a speech to his players at the end of practice on Thursday near O'Brien Field. The Panthers' first football game is Aug. 28 versus the Minnesota Gophers.

Jason Howell

Jason Howell

Jason Howell | The Daily Eastern News Coach Kim Dameron gives a speech to his players at the end of practice on Thursday near O'Brien Field. The Panthers' first football game is Aug. 28 versus the Minnesota Gophers.

Aldo Soto, Sports Editor

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Jimmy Garoppolo’s replacement was the biggest question mark for the Eastern football team heading into this season.

It will not be red-shirt senior Andrew Manley, who transferred from New Mexico State last year, and it will not be Kentucky transfer Jalen Whitlow. It will be a combination of both quarterbacks, sharing the responsibility of running the Panthers’ offense this year.

First-year head coach Kim Dameron knows who will start in the season opener Thursday at Minnesota, but also said that both quarterbacks would see playing time, which he wants to see happen all season.

“They will both play in the first game and I would hope that it will be that way all year long,” Dameron said.

Manley established himself as the starting quarterback in the spring, showing off his arm and impressing the coaching staff with the ability to avoid turnovers and score points.

But once the rumor of Whitlow coming to Eastern became a reality, so did the possibility of more competition at the quarterback position.

“When Jalen said that he was coming here we were excited about that and his abilities and his experience, but you can’t discount the fact that Andrew Manley is an experienced guy also,” Dameron said. “We knew it would be great competition and I feel like it’s brought out the best in both of them.”

Both quarterbacks have started at least 15 games at New Mexico State and Kentucky, respectively. Manley started all 12 games for the Aggies in 2012 before transferring to Eastern and Whitlow started eight games last year with the Wildcats.

Whitlow has an advantage over Manley in the running game, as he accumulated 663 yards during his 22 games at Kentucky, where he scored nine rushing touchdowns.

In 25 games, 20 of which came at New Mexico State, Manley rushed for negative yardage, while scoring two rushing touchdowns that both came in 2012.

However, Manley has thrown for 4,268 yards, nearly all of them while an Aggie, while Whitlow has thrown for less than a third of that total at 1,384 yards in four fewer starts.

Dameron said both quarterbacks are doing a good job of picking up the system of offensive coordinator Greg Stevens and that he does not mind criticism of choosing a dual-quarterback system instead of picking one starter.

“I’ve never really subscribed to that – plus the people that have had two really good ones have always been really hard for me to defend,” Dameron said. “So, I don’t think we should take one of our weapons off the field just because it happens to be a quarterback.”

While the mystery of who would replace Garoppolo has been answered, Dameron has still left a lot of intrigue when it comes to the Panthers’ quarterback position. The rookie head coach did not say who would start Thursday.

“We know who is going to start and how much each of them are going to play and they both have packages,” Dameron said.

Kick off is set for 6:30 p.m. at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn., and until then all that is certain is Manley will play and Whitlow will make his Eastern debut.

 

Aldo Soto can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]