Joker Phillips announced at his press conference Monday (the full video of which can be found at the UK Athletics website) that quarterback Maxwell Smith is out indefinitely due to a torn ligament in his ankle that he suffered early in last Saturday's game against South Carolina. Smith will undergo surgery to have it repaired and may miss the rest of the season.
Phillips said if that's the case, then the team would apply for Smith to be given a medical-hardship redshirt. The coaching staff has also decided to pull the redshirt off of Patrick Towles, who will move up to the No. 2 quarterback spot behind fellow true freshman Jalen Whitlow.
Phillips addressed the issue of two true freshman being the primary quarterback options by saying that the playbook would be tweaked for both of their skills sets. While Towles is more of a pocket passer, Whitlow is able to do more with his legs and extend plays if needed. The coaching staff will work this week to do as much as they can to adjust their play-calling ability to both players' strengths.
The timing of this injury couldn't be much worse for the Wildcats. Smith was one of the reasons that the Big Blue Nation had any hope of winning a few games in the SEC this season. Despite Whitlow's excellent performance in the first half of last Saturday's loss to South Carolina, he is still a true freshman that will be trying to run an undermanned offense with an under-fire coaching staff.
If the medical-hardship redshirt is granted (which is not a guarantee after this many games), then it also causes what is sure to be a very interesting and heated quarterback controversy this spring. If Smith stays out and Whitlow carries the load the rest of the way (which looks very likely at this point), then he will have had game experience to go along with his incredible athletic ability.
Add in rumors that talented local legend Patrick Towles is unhappy with not seeing the field this season (per Kyle Tucker of the Courier-Journal), the fact that Towles' redshirt is getting burned and the possibility that Max Smith could still have three years of eligibility left, and things are getting a bit crowded (and surprisingly talented) at the Kentucky quarterback position.
Kentucky's next opponent will be the Mississippi State University Bulldogs at 12:00 p.m. EST Saturday, October 6, in Lexington.
Please feel free to leave a comment below. If you'd like to sing my praises or tell me how terrible I am more personally, I can also be found on Twitter.