Coordinators Begin Preparation For No. 6 South Carolina
Sept. 25, 2012
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Heavy rains in the Lexington area forced the University of Kentucky football team to practice indoors at the Nutter Field House as preparations begin for No. 6 South Carolina. The Wildcats and Gamecocks will kickoff at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium.
Must of the focus on the team the last few days has been the health of starting quarterback Maxwell Smith, who did not play last week against Florida because of a shoulder injury. Smith wasn't expected to resume practice until Wednesday, but offensive coordinator Randy Sanders said after practice Tuesday that Smith practiced and felt "pretty good."
"Max felt pretty good today so he did practice," Sanders said. "The original plan was for him to not throw much today, but he felt good so we went ahead and practiced him. We tried to limit his throws just a little bit but he looked good and felt good. He is not 100 percent yet, but I expect by Saturday he will be really close. We will see how he is doing in the morning and judge on how well he feels."
Sanders said true freshman Jalen Whitlow got most of the snaps as the No. 2 quarterback Tuesday. Sanders said what makes Whitlow an option at quarterback is his speed and running ability.
"The thing Jalen can do and the advantage that young guys always have is their ability to run," Sanders said. "That is the one thing he has. If he doesn't know what is going on in the passing game he can pull it down and make yards ... That is the thing that showed up most in fall scrimmages."
Looking back at the Florida game, Sanders said there were some positives the team could take from the loss, especially how well they ran the football against a solid defensive front. That trend of stout defensive lines continues this week against South Carolina, who ranks seventh nationally in sacks and 22nd nationally in tackles-for-loss. Sanders said not only does the Gamecocks' ability to get off the ball cause problems, but so does their height.
"I see a lot of big, fast, athletic guys," Sanders said. "Their defense front is far and away the best defensive front we will have seen this year. Not only are they fast but they are tall. You got ends and the shortest one is 6-5. They are really good on defense, really active, really athletic up front ... Their front makes you get it out of your hand so quick."
Defensive coordinator Rick Minter took different approach in describing the defense's performance Saturday at Florida. Minter said he felt things got better, but there are still some areas of improvement.
"We kind of got better but we didn't," Minter said about the defense's performance at Florida. "Until the end result changes and we get better on third down, 12-of-17; until we get better at stopping the run, 200 yards, the result is not going to change. It comes in spurts. If you get off to a good start it gives your team a chance. We are a young team and we are trying to build on something so we did build on those three-and-outs early."
Scouting South Carolina, Minter said he expects a healthy cast of offensive power from the Gamecocks, including quarterback Connor Shaw and running back Marcus Lattimore. Minter said the current offensive scheme the Gamecocks are running was first installed last year against the Wildcats in Columbia.
"We except a full speed Connor Shaw, (Marcus) Lattimore and all the other cast and characters," Minter said. "They run a lot of solid plays where they just try to get a hat on a hat and let Lattimore go. Then Connor Shaw will pull the ball every now and then and if you don't cover him up then he can beat you just like the kid from Florida could. It's a good offensive ball club. It is kind of a 12th-man syndrome when you can have a running quarterback like that you have to defend the extra added advantage for them but we have to find a way."
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UK Coaches to Wear Patch for Fifth Season of Coach to Cure MD on Saturday: University of Kentucky football head coach Joker Phillips and staff will wear Coach To Cure MD patches on Saturday against South Carolina as part of a nationwide program to support Coach To Cure MD. The rapidly growing annual effort has raised more than a million dollars to battle Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
On Sept. 29th, American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) members will wear a Coach To Cure MD logo patch on the sidelines and college football fans will be asked to donate to research projects supported by Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy (PPMD), the largest nonprofit organization in the U.S. focused entirely on Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
Football fans can donate to Duchenne muscular dystrophy research by either going online to www.CoachtoCureMD.org or by texting the word CURE to 90999 (a $5 donation will automatically be added to your next phone bill).
Last year, more than 10,000 college coaches at 505 different institutions participated in Coach To Cure MD events. Both those figures are higher than in any of the program's first three years (2008-10). The four-year fundraising total is just over $1 million.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy is the most common fatal genetic disorder diagnosed during childhood and primarily affects boys across all races and cultures. Boys and young men with Duchenne muscular dystrophy develop progressive muscle weakness that eventually causes loss of mobility, wheelchair dependency and a decline in respiratory and cardiac function. Currently, there is no cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy and limited therapeutic options exist.
Reminder to Fans Attending Saturday's Game: Pets, except for service dogs, are prohibited from entering Commonwealth Stadium and surrounding parking lots/tailgating areas. For more information visit, www.ukathletics.com/fbgameday