South Carolina is coming to town this weekend with one of the most feared pass rushes in the nation. Both Devin Taylor and Jadeveon Clowney stand above 6’6, and are relentless in their pursuit of the quarterback. Kentucky will have their hands full, not only trying to ease QB Maxwell Smith into the game plan after a week off, but keeping him upright, as well. The biggest story in practice remains the health of Smith, and his availability for Saturday’s game.
–“He’ll be ready to play Saturday,” Coach Phillips said when asked about Smith’s availability. “Today was a day off for [Smith], we have him on a Tuesday, Thursday schedule, and he should be able to throw tomorrow.”
-Smith did get some reps with the first-team, handing the ball off to the running backs, but all of the passing reps went to Freshman QB Jalen Whitlow. The plan continues to have Whitlow start in place of Smith if he isn’t able to suit up.
-So how did Whitlow do with the first-team today? “Well, he didn’t look God-awful.” Phillips remarked. Uh-oh.
-Whitlow beat out fellow freshman QB, Patrick Towles, for the third quarterback spot, but Phillips doesn’t think that say a whole lot about the type of career Towles can have at Kentucky. “He’ll be a great quarterback in a couple of years. His skills work well in this system.” Phillips said that redshirting Towles has to do with his future development, too.
-Smith thinks the pain his shoulder is going to last the entire year, but he’s prepared to deal with it. Smith said his shoulder doesn’t feel as bad as when he injured it last year against UGA. “I could barely lift my arm a couple days after that. This injury is definitely less severe.”
-Smith said post-season surgery hasn’t been discussed, but he didn’t say to rule it out, either.
–OT Kevin Mitchell doesn’t think that Kentucky will prepare for USC’s pass rush any differently than the rest of the schedule. Mitchell says that the offensive line has to “play as a group and trust their technique” if they want to be successful.
-Mitchell says there is a little added pressure to keep Smith, with his shoulder injury, away from Clowney and Taylor.
We should know more about the status of Smith after tomorrow’s practice. He will likely throw, unless a setback occurs. If he can’t go, Whitlow will be the starter vs. USC.