"He has thrown the ball to me," said Roark after Saturday's 30-13 win over Mississippi here. "We have practiced a lot together, and he has done a good job hitting me and throwing the ball where it should be."
Roark had seven catches for 116 yards against Ole Miss. The week before he had a career-high 13 catches for 116 yards against Mississippi State with most of the receptions coming after Smith took over at quarterback for an injured Morgan Newton. That means in the last two games Roark has 20 catches for 232 yards compared to 30 catches for 275 yards in the previous 30 games he had played at Kentucky.
"Since I?had coached him in high school, he knew what tough love meant," Kentucky receivers coach Tee Martin said. "I knew what he could do, but I had to handle him different here than I?did when he was my quarterback. He knew I cared, but I had to sit him down one game."
That's because he dropped way too many throws early in the season before he dramatically turned his season around.
"It has been a lot of guys who have changed their seasons around. Matt is one of those guys who has changed his," UK?coach Joker Phillips said. "How many did he catch today? Seven. He has dropped seven in a game before.
"This guy came in and caught 13 last week and has battled. He plays a lot of plays. He got dinged up on the first big one he caught (today) and we weren't sure if he was going to be able to go back in. He was dazed but got back in there and made some big plays. I am proud of him." Roark says he never totally lost confidence in his ability to make plays.
"I always believed I could do it," Roark said. "But a game like this does give you more confidence, especially when you follow one good game with another one. It definitely gives others more confidence in you and shows them you are a reliable receiver.
"I was maybe almost to the point I?didn't think something like this could happen, but I?never gave up. I am glad I didn't and that I?am back making plays. I am surprised I've had 20 catches the last two weeks. It's surprising.?It feels good, but it also feels kind of weird. I?just did what I?was supposed to do."
Roark says he never minded being asked tough questions when he was struggling because he didn't particularly even enjoy talking about his success.
"I have never been a person that likes to talk about himself," Roark said. "I've just always tried avoid interviews. It's not because I was in a slump or was worried about tough questions. I just don't particularly like to talk about myself. But it does feel good now to get asked good questions."