It’s hard to imagine anyone but Stephen Johnson starting at quarterback in Kentucky’s first game of the 2017 season, a road game at Southern Miss. Last season turned around once Johnson stepped in to take the reins from the injured Drew Barker and he was outstanding in the upset of Louisville in the final game of the season.
But there are still concerns with Johnson at QB, writes ESPN’s David Ching, who sees a one-dimensional offense under Johnson’s guidance. Ching watched Friday night’s Blue-White game and believes the Wildcats could struggle without a drop-back passer.
Johnson held onto the ball for too long, missed wide-open receivers for potential big gains and tossed an ugly interception just before halftime that helped the White team — a collection of reserves — tie the score at 14 against Johnson’s Blue team, composed of starters.
The Blue eventually won 31-14, but Johnson’s struggles hardly provided much confidence that the Wildcats can be more than a one-dimensional offense with him taking the snaps. It might even open the door for a dropback passer like Drew Barker, once he returns to full health following back surgery, or Gunnar Hoak (16-for-24, 174 yards, 2 TDs, plus a 5-yard rushing score in the scrimmage), who obviously outplayed Johnson (8-for-18, 106 yards, 1 INT) on Friday, to wrestle the job away from the incumbent starter.
Kentucky did just fine in Johnson’s one-dimensional offense last year and it could once again with Benny Snell leading the way out of the backfield, but Ching thinks the Cats need significant improvement from Johnson this summer or a QB controversy may pop up.
Read more on his critique of Johnson and UK post-spring game here.