The Kentucky Wildcats were overwhelming underdogs heading into Saturday’s matchup with its archrival, the Louisville Cardinals. While Kentucky did ultimately lose the game, 27-13, the Wildcats could have suffered a much bigger loss in the midst of the contest.
Sophomore quarterback Maxwell Smith left the game in the third quarter with an apparent injury to his throwing shoulder. Smith earned the starting job after Kentucky’s Week 1 loss to Western Kentucky, and he played well in last week’s win over Miami (Ohio).
However, Smith has proven to be injury-prone during his UK career. This is the third straight season in which Smith has missed at least part of a game due to injury. After the game, the UK staff could not say what Smith’s status was for their next game, a home contest against the Florida Gators in two weeks.
While Jalen Whitlow entered the game in relief of Smith, and did a nice job, the Kentucky offense is limited with Whitlow behind center. Whitlow has yet to prove that he can effectively throw the ball and hit his targets consistently. He does make quite a few plays with his legs, but if the new offense that head coach Mark Stoops and offensive coordinator Neal Brown want to run is in place, the Wildcats absolutely must be able to throw the ball effectively.
One of the big questions in the Bluegrass right now is – would the coaching staff remove the redshirt from Patrick Towles if Smith were unable to return? Towles’ reputation is as a passing quarterback, and if he teamed up with Whitlow, the staff would hope that the duo might be able to produce solid results.
Right now, the hopes of the offense rest on the injured shoulder of Maxwell Smith. Until more is known about his status, no decisions will be made. But if Smith is not able to go, the coaching staff will need to make a move to help Kentucky have an effective passing game.
Tim Letcher is a contributing writer for RantSports.com and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter @TimLetcher, on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.