Starting quarterbacks on the mend

Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze and Kentucky coach Joker Phillips enter the weekend with similar predicaments.

Both are hoping that shoulder injuries don't sideline their starting quarterbacks with tough matchups coming up Saturday.

For Kentucky, Phillips expects to see Maxwell Smith back on the field against No. 6 South Carolina, after he missed last week's 38-0 loss to Florida with a shoulder injury that he suffered in the loss to Western Kentucky.

Having Smith back is very important for this offense, as he's third in the SEC with 966 passing yards and has eight touchdowns.

But if Smith can't go, true freshman Jalen Whitlow will start in his place. Whitlow replaced senior Morgan Newton against Florida last week, completing one of his six passes for 12 yards. Phillips said Whitlow has been taking the second-team reps at quarterback since the Louisville game and Newton's struggles as the starter against the Gators officially moved Whitlow behind Smith.

"He's coming," Phillips said of Whitlow. "He doesn't have the full package of our offense, but there are some things he can do. Every week he gets closer and closer to being able to do even more."

Freeze is also optimistic about getting Bo Wallace back against No. 1 Alabama. Wallace injured his shoulder in Ole Miss' 39-0 win at Tulane last week and was held out of practice Tuesday. Wallace told his coach that he could have practiced Tuesday, and Freeze seemed confident that Wallace would practice Wednesday.

"We'll see how the ball is coming out of his hand today," Freeze said.

If Wallace is held out, junior Barry Brunetti will start. Brunetti has had a very up-and-down Ole Miss career, but Freeze said he's been pleased with Brunetti's play during games this season. However, his issue is with his consistency in the passing game in practice.

If Brunetti goes this weekend, he'll have to leave that inconsistency in Oxford, as he'll face the SEC's top defense.