Sawyer Smith returned to action against Vanderbilt, and not just to run a quarterback sneak on fourth down (although he did that once too).
Once Kentucky built up a comfortable lead against the Commodores, Smith returned under center. He had thrown just one pass, a nine yard completion in the red zone against Missouri, since the disastrous South Carolina game six weeks ago.
Plenty of mystery surrounded Smith once he suffered a wrist injury against Florida. He powered through the pain, only to injure his shoulder at Mississippi State. The severity of those injuries remained unknown as fans called for him to return to the field. After completing 2-of-4 passes for 16 yards, Smith told Darrell Bird of the Cats Pause that he only recently felt healthy enough to play.
“I wasn’t back to 100 percent until the last week or so,” Smith said.
“Warming up on the sidelines is like throwing 10 yards, 15 yards at max. That’s easy,” he said. “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.”
The two incompletions were deep balls that were out of that 15-yard range. The game was well in hand, but Stoops wanted to see what Sawyer could do after the long layoff.
“We were throwing it a little bit getting Sawyer, getting the dust off him and letting him get some game reps,” Stoops said after the game. “Normally, you know I would be wanting to run the clock and get out of there. I have such great respect for Coach Mason and this program, so I would have liked to have got out of there, but we needed the snaps, our team needed it. Sawyer needed to make some throws.”
He could get a few more of those Saturday afternoon against UT-Martin, but it will not be as the starter. In the latest depth chart the “OR” behind Lynn Bowden’s name was removed.