As U of L arrives, Maxwell Smith is coming off his best game

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With all the (deserved) talk this week about Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, the Heisman Trophy leader, it has been lost that Kentucky’s starting quarterback is coming off the best showing of his college career.

In the Cats’ 41-7 romp over Miami (Ohio) last Saturday, UK’s Maxwell Smith posted a passing efficiency rating of 221.48, beating his previous best of 187.02 last year in Kentucky’s 47-14 drubbing of Kent State.

In the 2012 game against Kent State , Smith completed 30 of 39 passes for 354 yards and four touchdowns. Saturday, Smith was 15 of 23 for 310 yards and three scores without a pick. That’s 13.48 yards per pass attempt.

It was also the fourth-best pass efficiency performance by a Kentucky quarterback since at least 1985 — as far back as my stats database goes.

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At Wednesday’s post-practice media opp, the sophomore was asked about last year’s Louisville game in which Smith threw the football 50 times, completing 35 for 280 yards and two scores in UK’s 32-14 loss to the Cardinals.

With Smith as the starter, UK actually moved the ball fairly well at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Second possession, they drove 75 yards in 14 plays with Smith hitting tight end Tyler Robinson for a one-yard score to cut the Louisville lead to 8-7.

In the second quarter, down 22-7, Smith drove the Cats from their own 34 inside the Louisville 30-yard-line only to have running back Raymond Sanders lose the ball on a fumble. Then to open the second half, Craig McIntosh missed a 41-yard field goal.

After Joker Phillips’ club had cut the lead to 32-14, UK drove from its own 19 to inside the Louisville five-yard line only to have CoShik Williams lose the ball — again on a fumble.

“I know we lost,” Smith said. “That’s about what I remember. . . . I’m worried about this year, to be honest with you.”

Of course, both Mark Stoops and Neal Brown have indicated that UK will continue to go with the two-quarterback system of Smith and Jalen Whitlow used last Saturday.

And Smith said Wednesday the team isn’t preparing any differently because this is Louisville week. He said last Saturday’s showing did give the offense a bit of confidence, but overall the offense is practicing as it has before.

As for Louisville, “They blitz a lot, that’s for sure,” Smith said.

It should also be noted that while Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater is No. 3 in the NCAA pass efficiency ratings, Smith comes in at No. 9.

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