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4 Things Sawyer Smith can do for Kentucky’s Offense

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This offseason Mark Stoops tried something new — he searched for a player in the transfer portal. His first excursion was a success.

With the help of two former Troy staff members, Jon Sumrall and Mark Perry, quarterback Sawyer Smith became Kentucky’s first grad transfer of the Stoops era. Smith is the right fit for Kentucky’s offense over the next two seasons.

1. Terry Wilson Runs Free

When Gunnar Hoak announced three weeks ago his intentions to transfer to Ohio State, the UK coaches knew they needed another quarterback. Not to take anything away from Walker Wood, Nik Scalzo and Amani Gilmore, but without Hoak, UK’s offense was one bad Terry Wilson hit away from being completely flipped upside down. To prevent that from happening, Eddie Gran would surely tighten up the playbook to keep Wilson as safe as possible.

With the addition of Smith, Gran does not need to restrict Wilson’s legs. UK’s most explosive playmaker on the ground in his first season, Wilson gained 6.75 yards per carry on 8.2 attempts per game. Now that Wilson has someone behind him with experience, the offense can naturally progress by giving Wilson up to 12 or 13 carries a game.

When Terry Wilson runs the ball, he’s one big play away from a score or one hit away from being sidelined. Sawyer Smith ensures the risk isn’t too great to gamble for the reward.

2. Serenade the Offense

If he isn’t throwing darts, Smith is know for his excellent singing on the sideline (even if he doesn’t know the words).

3. Throw the Deep Ball

The weakest link of UK’s offense over the past two years has been the vertical passing game. The long ball just so happens to be Sawyer Smith’s greatest strength.

Whether he’s in the pocket or on the move, Smith can muscle the ball down the field. In the opening drive of the Dollar General Bowl, he threw a pearl 48 yards in the air that hit his receiver in stride for a touchdown. It was a thing of beauty.

Arm strength aside, Smith’s most important asset is that his game isn’t too different from Terry Wilson’s. If Wilson goes down with an injury, Gran doesn’t have to bring out an entirely new playbook. Smith uses his legs well enough to escape pass rushers or execute a read option. At Nebraska he turned one simple read into an explosive 57-yard run.

4. Experience, Experience, Experience

What sets Smith apart from any UK quarterback not-named Terry Wilson — or any quarterback entering the 2018 season — is the invaluable experience he received as a redshirt sophomore.

Smith played sparingly, primarily as a rushing option, in each of the first five games of the season before Troy starter Kaleb Barker suffered a torn ACL. Thrust into action, Smith was not perfect, but he showed up when the Trojans needed him most.

His best game of the year was at the Dollar General Bowl. Seeking a tenth win, Smith rose to the occasion, completing 70.5% of his 44 passes for 320 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions.

That kind of experience you can’t teach. You can try to simulate a third and seven from the 46-yard line with a four-point lead in a bowl game, but the blitz does not feel as real in practice. In that situation Smith looked off the single safety and remained calm in the pocket before dropping an absolute dime for a touchdown.

Sawyer Smith’s addition gives UK’s quarterback room a pair of 10-win signal callers. If Terry Wilson cannot complete his duties, Smith is perfectly prepared to keep the offense on course.


Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR

22 Comments for 4 Things Sawyer Smith can do for Kentucky’s Offense

  1. joshwlc
    7:06 pm May 13, 2019 Permalink

    Very happy to have Sawyer join the team. We now have confidence in our backup QB. Looking forward to this upcoming season. Also looking forward to Peters joining the team too. Hoping it happens!

  2. dlwdvm
    7:21 pm May 13, 2019 Permalink

    This is good news. I have an unrelated question. Am I the only one that can no longer get the archived pages of the website?. There used to be an option at the bottom of page one that no longer appears on my computer.

    • Luether
      7:37 pm May 13, 2019 Permalink

      You’re not the only one. KSR is not competently managing its website…

  3. Tom Bombadil
    7:34 pm May 13, 2019 Permalink

    It’s because your computer sux. Lmao

  4. Duuuuuude
    8:12 pm May 13, 2019 Permalink

    Why did he want to come here. Does he believe he will unseat Terry? Did he want a chance to play in the SEC? Whats up?

    • CatfaninCinci
      9:37 pm May 13, 2019 Permalink

      I hope he doesn’t plan to unseat Terry… An asteroid hitting Terry’s dorm room wouldn’t unseat him at starter with this coaching staff.

    • mashburnfan1
      11:48 pm May 13, 2019 Permalink

      Cinci….and it was the right choice by this staff….Dude is 10-3 and has a Citrus Bowl victory, name any other QB UK has had that can claim those numbers in 13 games. He led a team to a win vs UF AT UF and a win vs PSU by more than OSU beat them by. Now did he win all those games on his own, NO, but he also did not lose them. And he made big plays in several games, PSU, UF Mizzou, MSU, U6 to help win those games. That with very little time to learn the system and having never played this level of football. Pretty damn good if you ask most, not sure what you were expecting.

    • Thetruthshallsetbennyfree
      2:33 am May 14, 2019 Permalink

      Sawyer is 10-3 and is more of a qb who can kinda run as apposed to Terry who’s a touch tackable reciever who can sorta throw.

    • Thetruthshallsetbennyfree
      2:35 am May 14, 2019 Permalink

      Don’t get me wrong Terry “was” the best option. But unless he’s dramatically improved in every aspect of his game Smith should get a legit shot at taking over.

    • N-UR-i
      6:38 am May 14, 2019 Permalink

      Stop speaking as if Terry made UK 10-3. An outstanding TEAM around him is the primary reason UK went 10-3. With that being said, he should still be the starter come August 31st.

    • StillBP
      7:25 am May 14, 2019 Permalink

      calm down N-UR-i, I think we all know it takes a team to win football games, not just one person. Terry was an integral part of the team and people just can’t stand to admit that.

    • notFromhere
      8:01 am May 14, 2019 Permalink

      StillBP is right. Everyone was wrong about Terry and this team last year and still cant get their heads out of their assets about it. They need to eat their crow, stick their foot back in their mouths, and stop beating up the one that helped “their team” have the best season in 40 years.

      Someone coined the phrase “fellowship of the miserable” the other day for the bad jokes that can’t enjoy a good season without bichin constantly. Good thing these idiots are less than .5% of the UK fans

    • Thetruthshallsetbennyfree
      4:53 pm May 14, 2019 Permalink

      Sad you guys don’t know the difference between honest criticism and whining. Saying people want to be miserable is like me claiming you need to wash your nose and lips(which I’m not). I was one of the first to defend our team last year but I also base my opinions on facts. That being said Terry can also be blamed for 2 of our losses. Georgie was everyone. But his lack of downfield ability hurt us. We should have won by a couple of TD’s in a couple of games that ended up heart attacks. I didn’t say Sawyer should start I said he should have a fair chance “IF” Wilson didn’t improve. Without Benny breaking 20 tackles a game we’ll have no choice but to have a downfield game and at this point Terry hasn’t proved he is better at that or decision making then Sawyer.

    • notFromhere
      8:50 pm May 14, 2019 Permalink

      If you think my post was about you, thats a “you” thing. Terry did not cost us any games. It’s a team sport, and if anyone was paying attention to the spring game and Hoak’s playing time when Terry was injured, Terry was the best QB on the team.

      Going downfield is not just about the QB. 3 more parts O and 1 part officiating to make deep plays work. Line play, blitz pickup, and WR running routes consistently. Officials have to be ready to call holding and PI downfield, which they didnt because they perceived us as a running offense (because they are to slow to keep up with the game?). We had no consistency last year from WR or officiating.

      Bowden was almost the only WR that played aggressive with the ball in the air.

    • Thetruthshallsetbennyfree
      10:08 pm May 14, 2019 Permalink

      It’s an easy mistake when you say everyone.

  5. zoupman
    4:06 am May 14, 2019 Permalink

    It would have been better if Gunner had stayed.

  6. notFromhere
    7:55 am May 14, 2019 Permalink

    Why is everyone assuming Wilson will be the starter?

    This kid reads the option better, hits the receiver in stride, and can stand in the pocket and deliver under pressure. Dont count your chickens. He will have the opportunity to win the job, and he’s not coming here to play backup. This competition will make our entire offense better

    • notFromhere
      8:04 am May 14, 2019 Permalink

      It’s exciting to think we will have 2 capable QBs next season. Wish it had gone differently for Gunnar Hoak, but he still couldnt read the option well his last year here. We could IMPROVE our record next year

  7. One eyed critter
    11:50 am May 14, 2019 Permalink

    I wonder if Roush and Pilgrim will trash him like they trashed Gunnar.

    • notFromhere
      10:15 pm May 14, 2019 Permalink

      I’m tired of the tradition that non-football people seem to pick a QB and trash the others on a team’s roster. It’s ignorant and arrogant. Every QB has strengths and weaknesses, but that doesnt make it ok to denigrate one in favor of the other.

  8. Matt10
    1:25 pm May 14, 2019 Permalink

    This guy was a backup…at Troy?
    KSR first announced him as a pocket passer now you’re saying he would seamlessly fit into the offense if Terry gets hurt. Am I missing something?

    • Thetruthshallsetbennyfree
      6:17 pm May 14, 2019 Permalink

      He’s an athletic pocket passer. He has escapability and can throw outside the pocket.