The decision to name Maxwell Smith as the starter for the Louisville game came earlier t..."/> The decision to name Maxwell Smith as the starter for the Louisville game came earlier t..."/> The decision to name Maxwell Smith as the starter for the Louisville game came earlier t..."/>

Kentucky Wildcats Football: Five reasons Smith was the right choice at QB

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The decision to name Maxwell Smith as the starter for the Louisville game came earlier this week. While most fans should have seen this coming for a while, it may still surprise some that thought Morgan Newton had might make a jump up the depth chart or that one of the young players might grab the job. In my opinion, naming Smith as the starter was the right move, and here’s five key reasons why:

1. You have a clear-cut starter
Nothing divides a locker room like a quarterback controversy, and it’s been that way for years. With Smith in place as the team’s offensive leader, the rest of the roster can get behind him and the offense can be tailored to his skills. The drama of Smith worrying about losing his job is also bypassed and he can play confidently knowing that he’s entrenched atop the depth chart.

2. Newton failed to impress
Whether you love Morgan Newton or hate him, there’s no denying that he has not played up to expectations to this point in his career. After a solid freshman season, he failed to beat out Mike Hartline as a sophomore and was borderline terrible in relief of Hartline in the BbVA Compass Bowl. Then, he managed to follow that up with a lackluster beginning to the 2011 season, and the writing was on the wall. This is Newton’s fourth year in the program and, as talented as he is, he was never able to stand out the way he was expected to.

3. Playing Towles or Jalen Whitlow would have been a waste
If Patrick Towles had come in during the second semester and competed in the spring, he might be the team’s starter right now. Unfortunately, Ft. Thomas does not allow early graduations and he was relegated to getting on campus with the rest of the freshmen over the summer. With little over a month of preparation, throwing Towles to the wolves in Louisville could have set his career back significantly, possibly to the point of no recovery. The same can be said for Whitlow as well. Both of these guys have bright futures at UK, but they should develop more efficiently if brought along slowly. All that said, one or both players could still play as freshmen, but now they can be utilized in special packages without the pressure of being the opening day starter on their shoulders.

4. The offense has been built around Smith
Anyone that watched the spring game could see that this will be a new-look UK team. The offense is much more up-tempo and the quarterbacks will be forced to rely more on quick reads and accuracy than ever before. Smith looked very comfortable in the spring game and should excel in an offense built around the idea of him being at the helm.

5. Maxwell Smith has earned the starting job
In the four games that Smith played throughout last season, he performed admirably for a freshman. He obviously still showed room for improvement, but the arm, mind, and leadership were all painfully obvious. He was able to outperform Newton with the same offense, and against tougher competition.

Now, just because Smith has been named the starter now doesn’t mean things can’t change in the future. Injuries, poor performance, or other circumstances could drastically affect the depth chart at quarterback, but for right now, the right man won the job.