Sawyer Smith will suit up as Kentucky’s starting quarterback for the first time this Saturday, and he’ll face one of the Cats’ fiercest SEC East opponents, a rivalry with more than a few years of history behind it. And yet, he’s as cool as a cucumber.
“I’ve been practicing as if I was the starter probably since fall camp so I could get used to this new offense, so nothing has really changed,” Smith said Wednesday afternoon. “Obviously it’s a different role, but nothing has really changed.”
The Gators boast the highest number of quarterbacks sacks so far this year, averaging ten sacks per outing. How does that make Smith feel?
“They’re pretty good at the pass rush, but I know what I’m standing behind; I’m standing behind five guys that are really good at pass protection and run blocking,” Smith said. “I’m pretty confident in those guys in front of me.”
Meanwhile, his team, which only became “his” team a few days ago, may still be reeling over Terry Wilson’s season-ending injury. Right? Has Smith been able to win over the locker room already?
“I mean, I think y’all can talk to them, and they’d say they’re rallying around me. For me to say it, that doesn’t mean much,” Smith laughed. “But I feel like they are.”
Kash Daniel agrees with him on that point.
“We’ve all got confidence in [Smith] and what he can do. I’ve seen on Twitter, everybody has been putting up his highlights or whatever, so I guess you can see what he’s been doing,” Daniel poked at the media members. “But I’ve got nothing but confidence and all of the faith in the world in Sawyer.”
Daniel also reaffirmed Smith is far from alone in this difficult scenario.
“It’s a very tough situation. Not only is he a great teammate to me, but Terry is also really good friend of mine. You hate to see a player go down, but it’s also really heartbreaking to see the person – when you take the pads off – go through that. [Terry] has his head held high, and he’s here to support Sawyer in any way he can, just like we all are.”
As supportive as his teammates and coaches can be, there are still a few differences to adjust to in the transition from Wilson to Smith.
“Terry is a little bit faster, quicker. Maybe a step or two ahead,” Daniel said. “But Sawyer puts the ball where it needs to be. Sometimes it’s not going to be a dart; it’s not going to be an 80-yard pass, but it’s going to be where it needs to be.”
Beside putting the ball where it needs to be – and remaining cool, calm and collected under pressure – what more could you ask for from your starting quarterback, right?
Hear the rest of Smith’s pre-game thoughts here: