Notebook: Gators preparing for two Kentucky QBs


Kentucky has played both Jalen Whitlow, left, and Maxwell Smith at quarterback in its first three games. (Photo by The Associated Press)

Published: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 3:58 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 3:58 p.m.

For the second week in a row, the Florida defense is preparing to face two quarterbacks Saturday.

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Kentucky has played both Jalen Whitlow, left, and Maxwell Smith at quarterback in its first three games. (Photo by The Associated Press)

Kentucky has played both Maxwell Smith and Jalen Whitlow in its first three games. Smith is a dropback passer, while Whitlow is more of a dual-threat quarterback.

“We just have to be prepared for both, obviously,” UF defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin said Wednesday. “They play both of them in all the games. Both guys have maybe a different skill set, but a strong skill set.

“They both look like they're executing what they want to do on offense. And, they've been able to move the ball and do well. So, we're obviously watching to see who's in there and what they like to do with each one. There are some similarities, but there are also some differences, so we're just preparing for those."

The Wildcats are averaging 490.0 yards of total offense a game.

Halapio seeing fine now

Starting offensive guard Jon Halapio, who needed stitches after getting poked in the right eye in the Tennessee game, said he's fine now.

“It feels good. I can see out of it and everything,” he said. “The swelling went down. I've just been icing it this week.

“It was pretty tough (to play through it) just because I couldn't see. Not so much the pain. I didn't really even feel the pain. I was just worried about seeing the blocking schemes and stuff like that.”

Halapio also is playing with a brace on his upper body to protect the pectoral muscle he tore before the start of preseason camp. He said the brace does not limit him.

“I didn't notice any difference, honestly,” he said. “Once you get that adrenaline going in you, you don't notice any difference with any of the injuries. The brace didn't really prevent anything from my game.”

Zero picks for the 'Cats

Kentucky is the only team in the SEC that has not intercepted a pass this season, which may or may not bode well for Tyler Murphy in his starting debut.

“Well, it's disappointing,” UK coach Mark Stoops said. “I think when we have the opportunities we need to come up with the catches. I think we had one bounce right off our chest in the last outing. That can't happen. You've got to catch the ball, especially against a quality opponent.

“When you get an opportunity, you've got to make the most of it. So, we do need to do a better job of creating turnovers and getting some interceptions. But yeah, with that being said, I think we're doing some better things back there (in the secondary).”

Fowler breaking through

Sophomore defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. played the best game of his young career in the win over Tennessee. He forced two fumbles, had a sack and was named the SEC's defensive player of the week. It's the kind of performance the UF coaches have been expecting from him.

“It was great (to see),” Durkin said. “Dante really let it loose. That was more indicative of what we feel like we can see from him every week. Not that he's played bad. I just think at times he took over the game a little bit and dominated the line of scrimmage.

“He has that ability and I think he's just scratching the surface for what he can do and he's starting to realize it. So we're going to keep pushing him and coaching him like crazy.”

Durkin: Christy will rebound

Durkin, who was the special teams coordinator last season, said he's not sure why punter Kyle Christy has gotten off to such a shaky start this season

“To tell you the truth, my time is really spent on defense now. I haven't evaluated enough to look and point out what's different,” Durkin said. “The obvious difference is in the production that everyone can see.

“Kyle is a competitor. We know he's a talented guy. Sometimes you go through those deals. He'll work through it and be fine. He's proven he's very capable and he's a determined guy. He understands he has to get better, and he will.”

After dropping a snap and averaging only 37.0 yards a punt in the UT game, Christy finds himself having to fend off true freshman Johnny Townsend for the starting role this week.

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