Maxwell Smith: future NFL quarterback.
That’s right. I’m going all-in on Max Smith. General Maximus Smith.
OK, so maybe I’m getting a little ahead of myself here, dabbling in hyperbole. Still, Maxwell Smith has been nothing but impressive this season, running an efficient no-huddle offense, getting the offense in the right situation, making the proper reads, and throwing an accurate ball. He's got a better arm than you think too.
Let's pick out some passes from the game Saturday against Kent State.
First up is the touchdown pass to Gene McCaskill in the third quarter. The ball was put high, and on a frozen rope. There was nobody in the stadium that could have made a play on the ball except for the UK receiver, and McCaskill did. It was a great read, a great throw, and a great catch leading to seven points on the board for the Cats.
The second pass was the 30-yard incomplete effort to La'Rod King. We all remember the throw, mainly because it was originally ruled a catch then overturned as King's feet were both out of bounds, prompting you to look at your friend and say "are these replacement refs, too?"
Whether the pass was complete or incomplete is not the point; that throw had to be perfect, and it was. Right in between two defenders, all the way on the other hash mark, a strike right in between the numbers. I don't even think King was expecting the ball, thus he did not have a great feel for where he was. Still, it was a great throw, and even the guys on CSS had to comment about the precision strike.
The third pass that caught my attention was the lob pass to King for touchdown in the fourth quarter. You may say, "Well Brad, it was just a lob pass, it’s not that hard." Yeah, tell that to some of the recent UK quarterbacks. Not Smith, though. He lobbed it right to the back pylon, where only King could make a play. Sure, the cornerback was small and never really had a chance, buy the throw was perfect, and the result was perfect, another touchdown UK.
Let's also talk about Smith's decision making and his turnovers, or lack thereof. Through two games, Smith has thrown for 630 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions. That's with 90 attempts. You can debate whether or not that's impressive. I'll stick with yes, yes it is. (His 73-percent completion rate is higher than Tim Couch’s single-season record at UK.)
Back to his decision making, though. Max may be the best I have ever seen at UK in regards to going through his progressions quickly. Need proof? How about the fact that against Louisville he hit 11 different receivers, and against Kent State he hit 10 different receivers? That tells me he's always aware of where all of his receivers are going to be on any given play, and he is able to quickly scan the defense for the best option to target.
The scary part about this is that he's just a sophomore, and he's already on pace for an over 3,000-yard season, and UK still has not completed a pass that traveled more than 20 yards in the air. Just wait until defenses start creeping their safeties up to sit on the intermediate stuff, and Smith starts hitting King and Robinson for big gains.
To further illustrate how well Smith is performing, Andrew Woodson came out this week and said that he feels Smith is going to break records here at UK. That’s pretty high praise for a man who not so long ago was breaking records himself. I don't think it's debatable, though, that Smith is much further along at this point than Woodson was.
Smith's reign as the quarterback for UK is just starting, and the sky is the limit. Better get your No. 11 jerseys now and start e-mailing the owner of your favorite NFL team and telling them that they are going to need to make a spot for him on their roster.