UK Football

Stoops: Smith's injury not related to previous shoulder problems

Kentucky quarterback Maxwell Smith left the field with an injured shoulder during the Cats' 27-13 loss to Louisville on Saturday.
Kentucky quarterback Maxwell Smith left the field with an injured shoulder during the Cats' 27-13 loss to Louisville on Saturday. Herald-Leader

The injury to Maxwell Smith’s throwing shoulder is not related to his previous issues there.

The sophomore quarterback also has full range of motion now, Kentucky Coach Mark Stoops confirmed on his part of the weekly Southeastern Conference teleconference.

“It’s my understanding that it’s a different part of the shoulder, and that this shouldn’t have any effect on what has previously been hurt,” Stoops said of Smith. “So we’ll see how he progresses. He seems to be feeling good. He can throw the ball very lightly right now and has full range, so we’ll see how he goes throughout the week.”

Stoops also fielded questions about his other quarterbacks, including Jalen Whitlow, who started the season as the No. 1 quarterback against Western Kentucky, but has been used as a part of a rotation with Smith in the next two games.

When asked what Whitlow needs to do to perform better, Stoops said the sophomore from Alabama needs to “settle down,” especially when he gets into the game. In Whitlow’s first trip into the game on Saturday, he fumbled the ball.

Later in the game, subbing in quickly for Smith, Whitlow threw an interception.

“He’s been shaky at times to start the game,” Stoops said. “Once he settles in, he does some very good things. But we need him to just play more natural. He is an athlete.”

The coach said the staff also wants to see Whitlow get a better feel for when to run the ball and when to sit in the pocket and wait.

“He’s been a little bit erratic,” Stoops said. “We need to get him more consistent, that’s for sure. I think you do see times when he’s sitting back there and he throws the ball extremely well, so he’s just gotta be more consistent.”

But it’s not all on Whitlow.

“We’ve gotta be more consistent around him,” Stoops said. “It doesn’t go very well when we have open receivers and our quarterbacks miss them, and then the next time maybe the receiver drops the ball. So there’s a lot of drive-killers out there. We’ve just gotta be more consistent as a team.”

Also, if injuries were to knock out Smith or Whitlow, it sounds like there would be a new open quarterback competition between Patrick Towles and Reese Phillips.

“If one of those guys goes down, then it’s between Patrick and Reese to see who would be the backup quarterback at that time,” Stoops said. “Both of them have done some good things.”

Read more on Jennifer Smith's UK football blog