By LARRY VAUGHT
What impact will making a switch from Terry Wilson to Sawyer Smith at quarterback change Kentucky’s offense when the Cats host Florida this Saturday night?
Wilson suffered what coach Mark Stoops called a “significant” knee injury in a 38-24 victory over Eastern Michigan. Smith, a transfer from Troy, came in and threw two touchdown passes.
Stoops said “nothing” changes if Smith does have to take over as most expect.
“We’ll run our offense. Sawyer is very effective. Maybe not quite as dynamic a runner as Terry, but the reads will be the same. If he needs to, he’ll pull it and get the aggravating yards and move the ball,” Stoops said after the Eastern Michigan win.
Smith played in 13 games at Troy last season and started seven games. He’s an accurate passer — he hit 18 of 22 for 317 yards in one game last year — but he also had a 63-yard scoring run against Georgia State, the team that beat Tennessee last year.
Stoops got Smith after last year’s backup quarterback, Gunnar Hoak, transferred to Ohio State after last season ended. He has over 600 collegiate snaps.
“I think it’s a big deal that we have Sawyer and he has the experience he has,” Stoops said. “The game (against Florida) won’t be too big for him, that’s for sure. Just got to go out there and get some reps and execute. There are some things he does extremely well; we’ll lean on those.”
Stoops had Smith throwing until the end of the game against Eastern Michigan, including a 2-yard scoring pass to Lynn Bowden with just 54 seconds left to play.
“With Sawyer, he needed the reps, that’s correct. We needed to get on the same page and just run our offense. You know, we felt comfortable with being able to run it (the clock) out, but just wanted to run our offense one more possession for him, get him as many reps as we can,” the UK coach said.
Stoops said what Smith does daily in practice was not different from what he did against Eastern Michigan when he was 5-for-9 passing for 76 yards. He’s a confident passer and is not afraid to take a hit even if he doesn’t have the speed or size of wilson.
“There were some decision making out there today that I think he’ll learn from. There were some opportunities. But he can throw the ball. He throws it down the field,” Stoops said.
“We have a lot of confidence in him. If he has to go, then we have confidence in him and we’ll run our offense.”