UK notes: Maxwell Smith took his licks, proved his mettle

jsmith3@herald-leader.comNovember 22, 2011 

UK quarterback Maxwell Smith walked off the field clutching his arm late in the fourth quarter against Georgia.

DAVID PERRY | STAFF

It's hard for a coach to know just how tough his quarterback is until he sees him respond to being repeatedly knocked down in a game.

Now that Kentucky's Joker Phillips has seen it happen to Maxwell Smith, the head coach is impressed with the true freshman's response.

"Your quarterback has got to be one of the toughest guys on your football team," Phillips said at his news conference on Monday to preview the Tennessee-UK football game on Saturday.

"When (a quarterback) gets hit, he's in awkward positions. He's got to be the one that's not only mentally but physically tough."

Phillips saw those traits in his former roommate at UK, Bill Ransdell.

"He's tough," Phillips explained. "He made everyone else around him tough."

The coach sees that in his current quarterback, too.

"That's what Max Smith has proven, that he's a tough kid," Phillips said.

Smith, who sprained his shoulder in the loss at Georgia when the Bulldogs recorded their fourth sack of the game, likely will play on Saturday against the Volunteers.

"I'm just going to work my butt off in the training room this week to hopefully get ready for Tennessee," he said after the game.

Phillips indicated that Smith's range of motion in his right shoulder has improved in the last couple of days.

The quarterback may not get as many repetitions as he would during a normal week, but it doesn't mean he's not going to get plenty of practice via "mental reps."

UK used a similar strategy several years back when then-quarterback Billy Jack Haskins injured his shoulder.

"Somebody could be taking the snaps while he's making the calls," Phillips explained. We "might try to do that, something like that, just to get him some mental reps."

Former starter Morgan Newton has improved, as well, since injuring his ankle and throwing shoulder versus Mississippi State.

Celebration frustration

A video surfaced on the Internet on Monday of Tennessee's players celebrating after their 27-21 overtime win over Vanderbilt last week.

In the video, taken inside the UT locker room, Coach Derek Dooley is recorded saying: "The last thing I'm going to remind you is the one thing Tennessee does is kick the s--- out of Vandy."

Dooley was frustrated that the video got out.

"It's like there is no sacred place," he said. "Probably all 120 coaches in college football have a side to them where they loosen up with the team. ... It's a close game, it's emotional, have a little fun and then you close the door on it when you leave."

Changes in personnel?

Phillips was asked on Monday whether he planned to make any staff changes at the end of the season, as he did last season.

"My goal right now is to try to get this team prepared for our last goal that's out there," he said.

Phillips later was asked whether anything has changed since Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart came out earlier this season in support of Phillips remaining the head coach.

"I don't have a clue," Phillips answered. "I'm focusing on this game."

SEC honors Trevathan

UK senior linebacker Danny Trevathan was named the Southeastern Conference's co-defensive player of the week.

Trevathan tied a career high with 17 tackles against Georgia. He also forced two fumbles and one quarterback sack. Trevathan's efforts helped Kentucky limit Georgia to its second-lowest offensive output of the season (317 yards).

Injury report

Safety Martavius Neloms (ankle) is doubtful for Saturday's game, but he is out of his walking boot.

Linebacker Ridge Wilson (shoulder) has been away dealing with a "family illness," Phillips said without elaborating, and the UK staff has not been able to evaluate his progress yet.

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