Coach's Corner with Randy Sanders

Coach's Corner is a weekly KentuckyScout feature with one of the Wildcat assistant coaches. In this edition, UK offensive coordinator Randy Sanders talks about his unit's play against Florida and preparation for Saturday's game against South Carolina.

Kentucky SCOUT: The big question on everybody's mind this week is how is Maxwell Smith?

RANDY SANDERS: He did practice (Tuesday and Thursday). The original plan was for him not to throw (on Tuesday) but he felt pretty good, so we let him go ahead and practice We tried to limit his throws a little bit, but he looked good, felt good. He's not 100 percent yet, but I expect him to be real close by Saturday.

KENTUCKY SCOUT: How is Jalen Whitlow progressing?

RANDY SANDERS: He got all the work with the 2s. That's the way we've been since the Louisville game. That was one of the things that was hard on Morgan playing last week, that he didn't get much work in playing quarterback, so it was a tough situation for him. But we went right back to where we were before as if Max is going to play and trying to get Jalen ready.

KENTUCKY SCOUT: How much of the offense is Jalen comfortable with at this point?

RANDY SANDERS:Percent? I don't know, probably 10 percent that you'd feel comfortable calling. He might could draw more than that up on the board, but going out and executing against the kind of defense we've got to face Saturday, it would be pretty small.

KENTUCKY SCOUT: What does he offer that helped him win the backup job over Patrick Towles?

RANDY SANDERS:That's a good question. Early on, the thing Jalen showed was the ability to run. That's the one thing he has that, if he doesn't know what's going on in the passing game, he can pull it down and run and make yards. Not that Patrick can't, but Patrick doesn't have the running ability that Jalen does. That was the thing that showed up most in fall scrimmages.

KENTUCKY SCOUT: Max is wearing a knee brace. Does he have more than just the shoulder problem?

RANDY SANDERS: He kind of got rolled up on a little bit against Western (Kentucky) and tweaked it a little bit. It's not an injury or anything. A lot of drop-back passers wear that brace on their left knee because that's the one that tends to get rolled up on. I've done it in the past. Mike Hartline wore one and Erik Ainge wore won at Tennessee. It's not like it's going to slow him down any that matters, so I thought ‘Why not?' I probably should have done it before.

KENTUCKY SCOUT: What do you see from South Carolina when you turn on the film?

RANDY SANDERS: I see a lot of big, fast, athletic guys. Their defensive front is far and away the best defensive front we'll see this year. Not only are they fast, but they're tall. They've got ends, and the shortest one is 6-foot-5, so you think you can throw over him (laughs). They're really good on defense, really active up front. They lost some people on the back end, but it's hard to exploit the back end because their people up front makes you get it out of your hand so quick.

KENTUCKY SCOUT: True freshman Jordan Swindle has been getting more reps in case he has to go at tackle. How far along is he?

RANDY SANDERS: Well, hopefully far enough long that he can do what we need him to do. We've played with young guys before, played with freshmen before. He got in there last week some and did OK after the first two or three plays. I think the first two or three plays, he was pretty excited about the atmosphere, but once he settled down, he did alright. If he needs to play, we expect him to play well. If we need to help him in protection, whether it's sliding the line that way or putting somebody behind him to help him get started, we'll do what we need to do.

KENTUCKY SCOUT: How did you grade the receivers at Florida, given the struggles you had at quarterback?

RANDY SANDERS:I thought they did OK. Obviously, the passing game was much different than it would have been with Max playing. Max's strengths and Morgan's strengths in the passing game are much different. A lot of the things the receivers have been doing a lot of and gotten good at, we didn't do, and we kind of had to change gears a little bit. There were a few things they didn't handle as well as I would have liked them to, but at the same time it was things we haven't been practicing a lot. The things that they've been doing and we've been practicing a lot, I thought they did pretty well.

KENTUCKY SCOUT: Were there any positives you could take out of the Florida game despite the lopsided score?

RANDY SANDERS:There were a lot of positives. We ran the ball well against a good defensive front. The lack of being able to throw the ball and challenge them down the field made it tougher because we couldn't back them off, but we did have some success. It was very much a replay of some of our games last year. We were able to do some things, but we self-destructed. Once the score got out of hand and they knew what was coming, it got much tougher to move the ball.


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