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Smith looking strong, but UK unlikely to name starter at QB

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Head coach Mark Stoops



Offensive coordinator Neal Brown



UK continued a strong week of practice in preparation for Florida on Wednesday, as head coach Mark Stoops was pleased with the effort on offense and defense.

"I thought both sides of the ball had a good practice," Stoops said. "Guys got some good energy this week, good focus to them."

In particular, Neal Brown has been impressed with his unit. The offensive coordinator has a young group, but one that is improving by the week.

"We've had two really good days of work, Tuesday and Wednesday," Brown said. "A little rusty on Monday coming off a little break, but guys are fresh and we're getting better. Young guys are starting some progress. I'm pleased with how they've worked the last few days."

Leading the way for the offense have been Maxwell Smith and Jalen Whitlow, the two quarterbacks listed atop the depth chart. Smith has resumed throwing in practice after sustaining a shoulder injury against Louisville. He remains on a "pitch count" that limits his work, but in reality has not seen his workload altered all that much.

"Because we're rotating them, it wasn't an issue," Stoops said. "So it's not that limited, to be honest with you. We talked about it. He could have gone the whole time. He probably did as much as Neal wanted him to today, let's put it that way, because we're rotating them."

Particularly given his history, Smith's injury was cause for concern when he departed the game against the Cardinals. But after a week of light work and rehab during the bye, Smith's arm is looking strong.

"He's thrown the ball well," Brown said. "I think the week down did him well. No signs, no signs of the injury to me. Yesterday he was almost perfect in yesterday's practice. He had one drop."

Brown was even more effusive in his praise when he spoke directly to Smith during practice on Tuesday.

"I really judge my velocity on out routes and all out-breaking routes and all of them were pretty much on the money and they felt good," Smith said. "And (Brown) said it might be the best he's ever seen me throw the ball, so that was a compliment."

In spite of Smith's return to form, no decision has yet been made on who will start. Both quarterbacks are preparing to play and fans - and the Gators - will likely have to wait until UK's opening series to learn who will open at quarterback, just as they did in UK's season opener against Western Kentucky.

"Probably like the Western game," Brown said. "But they'll play better."

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