QBs Continue to Improve

March 30, 2011

LEXINGTON, Ky. – University of Kentucky football head coach Joker Phillips said after a two-hour, full-pads practice Wednesday that he was pleased with the development of quarterbacks Morgan Newton and Maxwell Smith, stating it was important now for both players to continue their development and not regress.

Newton and Smith threw the ball well in Wednesday’s workout, punctuated by the final play of practice in which Newton hurled a bomb to wide receiver Nik Brazley, who caught the ball in full stride and raced to the endzone untouched.  Although pleased, Phillips said there is still work to do.

“It is a process,” Phillips said. “If you look at the way our spring practices looked last spring, especially in the throwing game it was horrendous. Then you look at the stats and we were second in the league in passing yardage. We will continue to get better as long as the quarterbacks continue to study and progress the way we want them to. They just have to build on today. They can’t go backwards. They have to build on what they did today.”

Smith, a grayshirt freshman from Granada Hills, Calif., has performed well so far this spring in practice under the tutelage of offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Randy Sanders. Phillips said with the progress that Smith is making there is no doubt the future looks bright for the 6-foot-4, 225-pound quarterback.

“He is still a freshman,” Phillips said. “He is going to hold on to the ball a little bit longer than needed and sometimes he doesn’t realize the speed of which the game is played at this level. When he knows what to do and plays with great fundamentals (he is going to be good for us). The ball comes out of his hand as good as anybody we have ever had at this stage. As long as Max continues to progress, he will be a good quarterback here at Kentucky for a long time.”

Defensively, Kentucky continues to install its full defensive package with the coaches adding a little bit more of the defense each day. Phillips said after this week they will quit installing both offensively and defensively and concentrate on sharpening the systems.

After a full-pads practice Friday morning, the Wildcats will do some scrimmaging in the second half of  Saturday’s practice.

“Saturday won’t be a full scrimmage but we will do some passing scrimmages,” Phillips said. “One of our big emphases this spring is to make sure we come out of this thing feeling good about our passing game and becoming more efficient with these two quarterbacks. We will practice and then at the end of practice we will have a 25- to 35-play passing scrimmage. That is for everybody. It will give our defense a chance to show some of their blitz and passing-rushing ability as well. Also, it will give our quarterbacks a chance to see some live looks. We won’t hit the quarterbacks, though. But they need to be in the stadium and need to see some live sets coming at them.”