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UK Hoping QB Smith Is Ready To Learn

At this time last year, Kentucky fans were worrying about the departures of Randall Cobb and Derrick Locke.  The exit of quarterback Mike Hartline?  Well, that was viewed as a positive by many.

But as Morgan Newton struggled mightily as the Cats’ signal-caller, Hartline’s work the previous year looked better and better by comparison.  Eventually, UK turned the ball over to true freshman Maxwell Smith.

Against Florida, LSU and South Carolina, Smith was just 7-of-18 passing for 50 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions in get-your-feet-wet duty.

He didn’t play the following week against Jacksonville State the next week, but he did finish up his season — he missed the Tennessee finale with an injury — by completing 77-of-134 passes (57%) for 769 yards (192 per game) with four touchdowns and just two picks.

Clearly, offensive coordinator Randy Sanders finally someone under center who knew what he was doing.  Just don’t tell that to Sanders:

“Max didn’t know anything last year.  He knew just enough to survive for the most part…

The more he understands and the more he can anticipate, the more he can throw the ball accurately.  We’ve got to get to where he understands enough that he can make everyone else’s job easier instead of everyone else trying to make his job easier.”

As for the man Smith replaced, Sanders was brutally honest.  “Obviously, if you’re a quarterback and can’t throw in this offense, then you’re pretty limited.  He’s got to do the best he can do with the mental reps and what’s going on, being able to see it and learn from other people’s mistakes.”

Newton won’t do any throwing this spring after undergoing surgery this offseason.  So the #2 behind Smith will be Jacob Russell, a transfer from Eastern Kentucky.

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