Whitlow should start at quarterback position

Aldo Soto, Sports Editor

As a sophomore Andrew Manley entered TCF Bank Stadium with only career five starts under his belt.

The quarterback left his sixth start with a win over Minnesota of the Big Ten Conference, a big deal for Manley’s New Mexico State Aggies that reside in the WAC.

Manley’s only mistakes on that September day were interceptions in the second and fourth quarter. He did not let that faze him, as Manley threw for 288 yards and three touchdowns – a great display of poise and leadership from the Hawaii native.

Now, Manley is with Eastern, which begins its season at Minnesota.

Panthers’ head coach Kim Dameron has decided to play Manley and Jalen Whitlow at quarterback this season.

That’s fine, it could work. Obviously offensive coordinator Greg Stevens nor Dameron are giving me a call to ask what I think, but I think it should be the Kentucky transfer starting in Whitlow starting full time.

Some want to point back to Manley’s win over Minnesota when he was a sophomore, but that was on Sept. 10, 2011, or 1,083 days ago.

A red-shirt senior this season, Manley last started a game on Dec. 1, 2012 (635 days ago). Whitlow made eight starts last season at Kentucky, while appearing in all 12 games for the Wildcats.

A lot has changed from 2011, and looking back at that Minnesota team, it was losing a lot that year with Jerry Kill in his first season with the Golden Gophers finishing 3-9.

In 2011, Whitlow was a senior at Prattville High School in Alabama, winning the class 6A state championship. Manley was rehabbing a season-ending injury after his third game with the Aggies that year.

Don’t get me wrong. In no way am I cheering against Manley this year. Looking at the numbers, Manley has more than three times the passing yards in college than Whitlow (4,268 – 1,384).

Dameron points out the obvious difference between the two quarterbacks, as Manley is more of a stay-in-the-pocket quarterback, while Whitlow is more of a scrambler.

But looking at what Stevens ran at Southeastern Louisiana, it seems that the more mobile quarterback is better equipped for this Eastern offense.

Bryan Bennett was the quarterback at Southeastern Louisiana last year and passed for 3,165 yards and ran for 1,046 yards. Sounds like a dual-quarterback threat to me.

Out of the two Eastern quarterbacks, only one realistically has the chance to put up those rushing numbers. It’s Whitlow, not Manley. And Dameron has said since he’s been hired that the quarterback playing for him would also be a threat to run.

Another argument for Manley to start over Whitlow is that he’s been at Eastern longer. Yes, he got sit back last year and learn under Jimmy Garoppolo, but there’s a completely new coaching staff and different offense.

OK, he was here during the spring and Whitlow was still at Kentucky. So, maybe Manley was ahead in picking up the new offense. Well, Whitlow seems to have picked it up pretty quickly because after being the out right starter after the spring, Manley is now sharing the starting job with Whitlow.

Plus, the offense is similar to what Whitlow ran when he started seven games as a freshman at Kentucky. A pro-style system that he said he is most comfortable with. The same type of offense he was in when he won a state championship in high school.

With two years of eligibility left, Whitlow should start now because after the year is over Manley will be gone. It’s in Eastern’s best interest to give the guy who still has a future beyond this season the most room to grow and develop.

If Manley is truly a better fit for this team, Whitlow’s transfer would not have affected his status as the starter. Yet again, if Whitlow is better than Manley, he would be the definite starter heading into the season.

I guess Dameron really does know what he’s doing.

Aldo Soto (@AldoSoto21) can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]