By KEITH PEEL, Contributing Writer
Now don’t get me wrong. I love Terry Wilson as the quarterback at Kentucky. Phenomenal player and a great team guy, but what if Kentucky has just as good, or maybe better, offense with Sawyer Smith leading the team?
What if the offensive attack for UK becomes even more balanced and teams have to honor the deep pass down the sideline or the post pattern to the tight end over the middle? That might allow more running lanes to open up for the running backs.
What if Sawyer Smith has a slightly more accurate short pass to the running backs coming out of the backfield which would allow the running backs to become more of a weapon?
I realize that with Sawyer Smith as the quarterback the running option in the run-pass read option offense might be slightly reduced. But it’s not like Sawyer Smith can’t run the ball. He ran for 191 yards while starting about half of Troy’s games last season but, unlike Terry Wilson, he will probably run the ball more out of necessity than as a true run-pass option.
As a passer he threw for 1,669 yards with 14 touchdowns and six interceptions during his 2018 season at Troy. He’s proven that he can throw the deep ball well. In fact, his first pass as a Kentucky quarterback was a 48-yard touchdown pass to Ahmad Wagner. He threw another touchdown pass to Lynn Bowden later in that same game against Eastern Michigan.
Now comes the big test against the Florida Gators. With a good showing from the Wildcat’s offensive line Smith’s passing might be the perfect complement to a running game that will find yards difficult to come by against a Todd Grantham-led Gator defense that has the 15th best rushing defense in the country giving up only 71-yards per game.
Knowing that Sawyer Smith can throw the ball accurately — and has played in big games before — might allow UK offensive coordinator Eddie Gran the option of throwing the ball a little bit more than they have in the past with Terry Wilson at quarterback.
I love Terry Wilson as UK’s quarterback, but having Sawyer Smith lead the team doesn’t mean the Wildcats are doomed to a season of mediocrity. Sawyer Smith has proven he is a winner by leading Troy to a 10-3 season and a bowl game win against a very good Buffalo in the Dollar General Bowl last year.
Starting on Saturday we will see someone other than Terry Wilson suit up and take the field as the starting quarterback for the first time in 15 games but we should still see a Kentucky offense that consistently moves the ball because they have a great offensive line, a very good trio of running backs and a much improved group of tall, physical wide receivers.
They also have a coach that has taught them how to win and that’s something that shouldn’t change no matter who the quarterback is.