“We expected to be moving the ball like that all year,” Smith said.
Phillips said Sunday that Newton’s injuries would be evaluated today and then again Tuesday.
“They are both beat up. They both took shots,” Phillips said. “Max is just banged up, bruised up. We have to get him healed up.”
Smith left little doubt after the game that he would be ready to play.
“That’s part of it.¿You are going to get hit. You are going to get smacked. You have to step up and make throws,” Smith said. “All quarterbacks know that. All the great ones step up and make the best throws when they are getting hit. I¿am fine. I am going to walk out of here and be ready to go again.”
Phillips said Smith consistently gets 40 percent of the reps with the first team in practice and must learn to recognize some defensive fronts better to avoid taking some of the hits he did Saturday night.
“What we will do is give both of them opportunities to run with the ones (first unit) and twos (second unit) and see who handles the game plan best and see who gives us the best chance to win,” Phillips said. “If you are practicing, you are getting a chance to compete every week. The thing Max did is he went in and separated himself in the game. Rather he closed the game in the game. Most of the time you have to do that in practice. He went in and did it in a game and that gives him consideration to be the starter.”
Kentucky offensive coordinator Randy Sanders said Smith didn’t do anything the coaches didn’t anticipate he could do — or do even better based on his talent.
“If I could get Max to practice with the same intensity and same effort that he did tonight, then he would make progress much faster. He is a typical, true freshman guy. You have to learn how to prepare,” Sanders said. “Once he played some against Florida, he improved some. Once he played against LSU, he improved. It is a process. If he would just go out and practice with the same sense of urgency he played with tonight, then it would be interesting to see how good he could get.”
Smith said he understands the concept.
“I just kind of learned the more work you put in, the more you are going to get out of it. That’s just how it goes. The harder I¿work, the luckier I will get,” the freshman quarterback said.
Sanders, who coached Peyton Manning at Tennessee, says Smith has talent but lacks experience. Smith, a California native, played his high school senior season in 2009 and enrolled at UK in January of this year.
“He has as much arm talent as anybody I¿have ever coached as far as just throwing the football. Now his presence in the pocket, managing protection. That is where he is still a work in progress,” Sanders said.
“A lot of guys come in and started in high school for three years and have a lot of experience. Well Maxwell started one year and halfway through the season he lost his two receivers, so they became a running team. He doesn’t have the reps in the passing game and managing things that a lot of freshmen quarterbacks do. But the talent, the ability, we can all see that and that is why we think he is an exciting prospect.”
Since both Newton and Smith are “banged up” already, Phillips said Sunday that true freshman Bookie Cobbins will be on standby if needed at quarterback. Phillips had toyed with playing him either at quarterback or receiver a few weeks ago, but opted to save his redshirt year.
“With both of them banged up, we would have to consider Bookie Cobbins. You have to finish the season. He would be our third quarterback if we have to go with someone,” Phillips said.
Apparently that was not an option against Mississippi State.