The University of Kentucky football team is busy preparing for its match-up with the University of South Carolina on Saturday, Sept. 29, and the main focus seems to be on quarterbacks. Here is a breakdown of Kentucky's No. 1 and No. 2 QBs, and how they compare to the Gamecocks' quarterback.
Maxwell Smith: At the Sept. 24 edition of his weekly press conference, Kentucky head football coach Joker Phillips said that having sophomore starting quarterback Maxwell Smith out of the game is a setback, explaining that "he's our starter, and (when) you lose your starter, you do lose a valuable person in your offense." Phillips said Smith had aggravated a shoulder injury from last year, but seemed confident that Smith would recover in time to see more playing time in the 2012 season. As of the Sept. 25 practice, Wildcats offensive coordinator Randy Sanders said that Smith "isn't 100 percent yet," but is expected to be "really close" by the Sept. 29 game against South Carolina.
Takeaway: Smith is a vital member to the young Kentucky team and there's a chance that he could be put in late in the game if his shoulder injury recovery progresses as his coaches describe, but he probably won't start versus South Carolina.
Jalen Whitlow: Phillips said in his press conference that after the Louisville game, the Kentucky coaches began prepping true freshman Jalen Whitlow for the No. 2 quarterback position, which had been reserved for Morgan Newton earlier in the season. Whitlow had significance practice time at the quarterback position during the Sept. 25 practice. Sanders said that Jalen's advantage is his running ability and speed, but Phillips is hesitant to say whether putting Whitlow in the No. 1 QB position will be a regular occurrence. "When Max went down, we just felt like he (Jalen) wasn't ready, wasn't quite ready to go in in that type of environment," Phillips said.
Takeaway: Whitlow is being groomed to fill Smith's shoes and has shown great promise so far. He will likely start versus the Gamecocks, after he has had a week's worth of practice time to convince Phillips that he is the best option after Smith.
Connor Shaw: South Carolina's starting quarterback has an impressive resume, and is only four consecutive completions away from a Southeastern Conference record. "Connor throws a catchable ball," South Carolina head football coach Steve Spurrier said during his Sept. 25 press conference. Shaw incurred a hairline fracture in his throwing shoulder during the Sept. 22 game against Missouri, and has been recovering, but Spurrier said that Shaw should be able to continue his tremendous consistency in the game in Lexington, Ky.
Takeaway: Shaw has emerged as an enviable opponent for the Wildcats with his incredible completion accuracy. While Kentucky is working toward a win on Saturday, Shaw will be working toward a record.
Shannon Frazer is a University of Kentucky graduate and football fan.
UK Athletics, "Weekly Phillips Press Conference Coverage," ukathletics.com
UK Athletics, "Coordinators Begin Preparation for No. 6 South Carolina," ukathletics.com
South Carolina Athletics, "Coach Spurrier Press Conference: September 25, 2012," gamecocksonline.com
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