Stoops says Kentucky QB Smith good to go for Florida game

jsmith3@herald-leader.comSeptember 17, 2013 

  • Tennessee at Kentucky

    When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30

    TV: ESPNU

    Records: Kentucky 2-9 (0-7 SEC); Tennessee 4-7 (1-6)

Kentucky quarterback Maxwell Smith's oft-discussed shoulder seems to be healing and the sophomore likely will be able to play against Florida next week.

Smith, who has injured the shoulder in each of the previous two seasons, missed most of the second half against Louisville after his arm was "jerked back real hard" by a Cardinals defender.

Throwing for trainers on the UK sideline after the injury, Smith said he lost some of the velocity on his throw.

"He told me he was feeling good," Coach Mark Stoops told the media after practice on Tuesday, the start of the Cats' bye week. "I mean, he didn't throw any balls today, but he said he's feeling good."

The coach also was asked how much of a concern Smith's shoulder is moving forward.

"Hopefully it'll just be a few days, I would think," Stoops said. "Doesn't seem to be anything major."

That sentiment echoed what Smith said after the Louisville loss.

"I'm going to be fine, and I'll be ready to go for our next opponent," said Smith, who acknowledged during UK's pre-season Media Day that he had pondered having his throwing shoulder surgically repaired in the off-season.

An ankle injury, which required surgery, forced Smith to miss most of the final eight games of last season.

In three games, including two starts, Smith has completed 32 of 56 pass attempts for 544 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. Before exiting the Louisville game, Smith had completed just nine of 20 passes for 109 yards.

Jalen Whitlow's lone interception of the season came the play after Smith came out of the game. So far, Whitlow has completed 28 of 44 passes for 286 yards and with one score, a 3-yard strike to Alex Montgomery in the fourth quarter.

With Smith not getting any repetitions in practice on Tuesday, Stoops was asked which backup was taking those additional snaps. It's Patrick Towles, a sophomore slated to be redshirted.

Of true freshman quarterback Reese Phillips, Stoops said: "Well, he's taking a few reps, just because we're down to the three of them, but Patrick will be in there."

In other injury news, Stoops said there are no serious ailments after the Louisville game, including senior defensive tackle Donte Rumph, who hurt his shoulder and didn't play in the second half.

Stoops called Rumph's injury "nothing major."

In fact, UK didn't have any major injuries to report out of that loss.

"If there was an injury that I felt that would keep somebody out of the Florida game, I would tell you right now, but that doesn't appear to be the case," he said.

Donning red shirts?

Kentucky's coach was asked if he expected to play more, if not all, of the true freshmen he recruited this season. It doesn't sound likely.

"Right now, I think anybody that you've seen at this point would be the guys that we're planning playing," Stoops said.

Eight true freshmen from that class, ranked as high as No. 29 by Rivals.com, have played in a game: wide receivers Ryan Timmons, Alex Montgomery and Jeff Badet, running back Jojo Kemp, defensive end Jason Hatcher, linebacker/defensive back Blake McClain, cornerback Jaleel Hytchye and defensive back Marcus McWilson.

So most likely, the following true freshmen will be redshirted: offensive linemen Justin Day, Nick Haynes, Kyle Meadows, Ramsey Meyers, defensive linemen Jacob Hyde, Regie Meant and kicker Austin MacGinnis. UK also hasn't used defensive lineman Melvin Lewis, a junior college standout.

Quick hits

As Kentucky starts prepping for Florida in two weeks, many on the new staff have the advantage of having game-planned for the Gators before, when they were rivals at Florida State.

Stoops and UK defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot went 2-1 in their three years as Seminoles versus the Gators, with the lone loss coming last season when FSU lost 37-26.

"It's definitely something that helps you," Eliot said of having old notes while pre-game planning for Florida. "You've played them before and you're familiar with those types of players and coaches."

■ Daryl Collins was the only scholarship wide receiver for Kentucky that didn't play against Louisville. In fact, the sophomore hasn't played since his fumble on a punt return against Miami.

When asked what caused Collins' absence, Stoops said: "A variety of things, but he'll get on the field when he earns his playing time. He was banged up and missed a lot of time. That's one thing. Didn't help."

■ A key play in Saturday's loss to Louisville was a fumbled handoff between Smith and running back Raymond Sanders at the Cardinals' 13-yard line right before the half.

Coaches and players involved said they'd have to go to game film to see what actually happened. And? "It was a combination," Stoops said of the mistake. "It was a combination of the two of them."


NEXT GAME

Florida at Kentucky

When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28

TV: ESPN2 or ESPNU

Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241. Twitter: @jenheraldleader. Blog: ukfootball.bloginky.com.

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