LEXINGTON, Ky. -- It didn't take long for sophomore Jalen Whitlow to lose the starting quarterback position at Kentucky.
After a humbling loss to Western Kentucky, first-year coach Mark Stoops reversed directions and will start sophomore Maxwell Smith Saturday against Miami (Ohio).
Smith relieved Whitlow in the 35-26 loss to the Hilltoppers and was more productive -- going 8-or-13 for 125 yards and a touchdown. Whitlow was 10-for-15 but tallied just 78 passing yards.
Stoops cited the upcoming opponent as a factor in the decision and attempted to minimize that the season-opening loss played a part in the decision.
"Just because we're naming Max, we're not putting that loss on Jalen whatsoever," Stoops said. "There's an awful lot of people that could do things better, starting with me.
"Max came in there and did some good things and Jalen did some good things as well -- just like we thought he would."
Smith started four games last season before suffering a season-ending ankle injury against South Carolina. He passed for 975 yards, eight touchdowns and four interceptions.
The new coaching staff has concerns with his ability to stay healthy -- he also is batting issues with his throwing shoulder -- and decided to go with Whitlow as the starter against Western Kentucky.
The Wildcats are feeling pressure not to have another disappointing performance against Miami (Ohio). That's because the ensuing schedule reads like this:
Louisville, Florida, at South Carolina and Alabama.
All four of those teams are currently ranked in the Top 10. Is a 0-6 start to the Stoops era a very real possibility if Kentucky doesn't emerge victorious this Saturday against a Miami team that was routed 52-14 by Marshall in its opener?
Stoops said in the offseason he knows the program's downtrodden history and was shocked by the astounding lack of depth in the program.
The Wildcats put 11 first-time starters on the field against Western Kentucky and six true freshmen saw action during the contest.
Making progress amid the carnage is a major priority for Stoops no matter how disappointed the fan base becomes when the losses mount.
"As a coaching staff and as players, we believe in what we're doing," Stoops said. "Of course, I want the excitement here, I want the fans here and I want the people behind us. I just have a hard time saying bad things about our players. It is what it is."