By LARRY VAUGHT
For several weeks Kentucky football fans have been wondering why coach Mark Stoops didn’t go back to quarterback Sawyer Smith to give the Cats more of a passing offense.
Even before that many were wondering why redshirt sophomore quarterback Walker Wood was not given a chance when Smith, who took over after Terry Wilson went down in week two, was hurt — he injured his hand against Florida in game three and hurt his shoulder the next week — and not effective before UK turned to Lynn Bowden full time.
Both quarterbacks did get to play in Saturday’s romp over Vanderbilt. Smith had not played the previous four games and Wood had never played in a game at UK.
After the game, both players shed some light on why they had not been playing.
“I wasn’t back to 100 percent until the last week or so,” Smith said.
What about time he had warmed up on the sideline before and during games and seemed to be throwing fine?
“Warming up on the sidelines is like throwing 10 yards, 15 yards. Anybody can throw it 15 yards. It’s the ones that are out in my range. They’re coming back. They’re getting better. It’s about getting back into it,” Smith said.
Wood had surgery on his knee in high school and has had two shoulder surgeries at UK.
“I kind of had to recreate the way I throw just because my shoulder wasn’t the same. I’ve put a lot of time and work into that and I think this spring I’ve showed glimpses of my arm strength coming back, so I’m proud of that,” Wood said.
What was impressive is that neither quarterback wanted any part of any second-guessing of Stoops over not playing them. Smith called Stoops a “hell of a coach” that he trusts completely like he does the entire coaching staff.
He’s been willing to do what he can to assist Bowden, who is now 3-2 as a starting quarterback.
“I don’t talk to him about his running because I’m not a runner. I can run a little, but not like him. He’ll ask me about coverages and what the corners are doing, what the safeties are doing. Playing in college as long as I have and seeing all the defenses, I’m just trying to help him out in any way I can,” Smith said.
“He’s been running routes against these defenses for years. So it’s just about seeing it from the quarterback’s perspective.”