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Kentucky’s quarterback controversy started and ended in the 2nd quarter

Even though Kentucky was 8-4 with Stephen Johnson at quarterback heading into today, some fans were still clamoring for Drew Barker. Not anymore.

Johnson started the game 7-9, but for some reason, the coaching staff pulled him out and put Barker in to start the second quarter. It did not go well. Over two series, Barker was 1-2 for 5 yards. After undergoing back surgery last year, Barker’s reentry to live game action was rough; he was sacked twice for a loss of 15 yards. Mercifully, the staff put Johnson back in to close the half, and he responded, swiftly leading Kentucky down the field for a touchdown. Here are his stats in the first half compared to Drew’s:

Stephen Johnson 12-18 140 yards 1 TD 0 INT
Drew Barker 1-2 5 yards 0 TD 0 INT

In a surreal first half, the decision to go to Drew was the most bizarre of all; why bring him in when Johnson was doing just fine? Sure, the offense wasn’t clicking on all cylinders, but that’s in part due to Benny Snell going to the locker room with bruised ribs and the offensive line’s continued struggles. With the line performing so poorly, why mix things up even more and take out Johnson, a proven scrambler?

“We said that we were going to play [Drew] in the third series, no matter what,” Stoops said, explaining that the staff needed to see how Barker would react in a live situation. “We have to. We did the same thing last year when Stephen was the backup because you’re one play away from playing. And sure enough, Stephen was playing. We had to get Drew back out there and get his confidence up and get him playing and get him some snaps and see what he can do.”

But why do that in the second quarter when your team is losing? With fans grumbling for Barker after Southern Miss, the coaching staff needlessly fueled the quarterback controversy by putting him in so early. The only good thing to come out of it was that Drew performed so poorly and Johnson so ably that no one can suggest that Drew get the nod over Stephen ever again.

Case in point: on Johnson’s first drive back in, he didn’t flinch, covering 75 yards in 58 seconds for seven points. His throw to CJ Conrad down the middle was beautiful:

And how about his 21-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter?

Johnson finished 15-22 for 224 yards, one touchdown passing, and one rushing. He even looked good throwing long, connecting with Blake Bone for 43 yards on Kentucky’s first drive in the second half. Stoops credited the much-maligned offensive line for giving Johnson enough time to make a big play.

“It was really nice to see us — our issues in the first half on some plays was protection,” Stoops said. “Once our protection got better, you saw that in the second half, I believe it was the first possession of the second half, the double move, the long pass down the boundary, and he connected with Blake [Bone]. That was a really nice pass, but it starts with protection.”

When asked, Stoops agreed that the team rallied around Stephen in the second half, but again stressed that the offense’s improvement was due in part to a better effort from the line.

“I think they respond to him but I think it comes down to everyone doing their job too and getting some time and some protection and not getting bad snaps and things like that. Just all playing together.”

Today’s win was ugly, but if anything, it proved that Stephen Johnson is this team’s quarterback, and that’s a good thing.

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

47 responses to “Kentucky’s quarterback controversy started and ended in the 2nd quarter”

  1. abgunz

    Stoops said that it was scripted ahead of time to get him some reps.

  2. crazycatfan65

    Tom Brady would’ve had Barkers stat line with the way the o-line was playing in the first half. How do you expect Barker to knock off the rust if he doesn’t get actual playing time? I agree that Johnson is the qb for this team, specially with the way the o-line is playing, but that is only because of the lack of pass protecting from the them.

    1. poppycat

      Agree that SJ is the better QB for this team. That’s what scares me.. much improvement from O-line and QB needed to compete in SEC

    2. Eazy

      Johnson was 15-22 for 229 yards an a td. Plus the rushing td. He had a great game.

    3. Hartline

      Yeah but not from Kentucky so it’s tough

    4. TBW3011

      Correct. Someone who knows what they are watching.

  3. poppycat

    Sometimes, the bench can get your attention. (So, an unnamed bb coach once said)
    Sometimes, you can learn a lot on the sidelines by seeing the entire field of play.

    1. katfan33

      SJ didn’t get benched!

  4. Trueblue7

    Well said TT.

  5. katfan33

    There’s NO quarterback controversy!!! SJ is the starter. End of story. Get Barker’s name out of your mouth. I can’t believe this is being discussed. Tyler, you’re better than this. This is a non story.

    1. Hartline


    2. Oaks

      Good article. Even if scripted they shouldn’t have switched given how close the game was. And wildcat on 4th and 1. Hey guys we are running up the middle again.

    3. TBW3011

      Coaches disagree.

  6. blueballs80

    I remember Patrick Towles on record saying that Drew would start at least 8 games this season. No doubt SJ is the QB of the team. Its a toss up for 2nd and 3rd string between Drew and Gunner.

  7. NOLAcat

    lol I’m awfully glad TT isn’t on the coaching staff.

    1. TBW3011


  8. crazycatfan65

    TT is spot on in this article. Johnson with his ability to scramble proves he is the right qb for this team here. Great job ma’am!

    1. T-wah

      I agree completely. I saw all I needed to see during the 2nd quarter to answer any doubts I had. Granted, DB is bound to have some rust after being out for a year, the offense mostly clicked under SJ. For right now, SJ IS our best option. He had a solid game and found a way.

  9. AirRaid98

    Horrible call to get Barker reps so early. Only way he should get reps is in a blowout. SJ is the qb. Period.

    1. TBW3011


  10. 2thepoint

    This team will get better when Gran decides to runs plays for Conrad on a consistent basis.

  11. east-ky-boy

    Drew came in with the hype but he’s a head case on the field. Can’t get the ball out of his hands. So any fan that says we should play barker is crazy! All Johnson has done is do what most people hasn’t been able to do at Ky …..WIN

  12. KatsKlaws

    My thought was is Barker is 2nd string imagine how bad Hoak must be…

  13. maximumscott

    This Offense will be much improved against SC. I do believe Gran has found out the hard way that this teams ability to rush will only be succesful out of normal formations. The Wildcat will be put on the shelf. Look to the 2nd half to see how successful the run was.

    1. TBW3011

      Better be or we get humiliated. I’d say 42-14 USC based on what I’ve seen this year.

  14. TBW3011

    Coaches don’t agree with you. Wait and see.

  15. BBNDan7

    Y’all complain a lot for fans of a team that’s 2-0

    1. kydrummer

      Yes they do!

    2. TBW3011

      Some people have eyes. We’ve played 2 awful teams and not looked good. Keep pumping sunshine though.

  16. TBW3011

    Barker will be the QB before the season ends. Not due to injury either. Wait and see.

    1. BBNDan7


    2. EdC

      pssst … The Easter Bunny isn’t real. It’s your parents hiding the chocolate eggs and stuff. Sorry to be the messenger.

  17. Cayutsby92

    It absolutely baffles me that people actually question SJ being our starting QB. It may not be pretty but HE GETS THE JOB DONE. HE WINS GAMES.

    1. TBW3011

      You’re mistaking him for the run game and d. Hint: he has nothing to do with either. 😉

  18. thenamerobdigity


  19. dano

    When was the last time a UK QB went 9-4 through their first 13 games? Sad that there are still those who are not in board. All SJ has done is leave it all in the field and help us win.

    Would Barker be better during Woodsons time? With an O Line that could block? Maybe. But, for Grans system, especially with an OL that was SUPPOSED to be good, SJ is the best option to win.

    1. TBW3011

      Jordan Jones is 9-4 in his last 13 games as a linebacker. See how stupid that sounds?

  20. EdC

    We said that we were going to play [INSERT NAME HERE] in the third series, no matter what

    Something you will never hear out of Nick Saban’s mouth or really ANY head coach that is confident and is great at their job. Great coaches know how to adjust based on the situation. Get the F’ing game well in hand then sure, throw the guy a bone.

  21. bailey000

    SJ is the best option to win anyway. Too many comments on here saying SJ should start because of the line issues, that’s stupid. If u have a dual purpose QB that actually can throw and make good decisions he’s your guy.

    1. TBW3011

      Agreed. He can’t throw though. And is an average runner.

  22. nagnuggts

    has anyone notice that we played 2 crap colleges and only won by a touchdown or maybe 2?? wait until we start playing SEC teams, the outcome will not be GOOD. this OUr schedule this season is weak has hell, SJ is a JOKE, Barker is a JOKE, until we get a top recruit in at QB that can PLAY we will always be a JOKE in football.

    1. MyFriendsBrotherInLawKnowsMattJones

      WOW that’s some amazing analysis. So SJ is 9-4 and you call him a JOKE. Lots of schools would be happy with THAT. They won close games last year as well. Winning is winning.

    2. UK Big Board Update


  23. AwesomeBillFromDawsonville

    Johnson has a 157.62 QB rating, 4 total touchdowns, 0 turnovers, 2 wins through 2 games. Also, I understand why they played barker today and I understand why they won’t again until needed. Go Cayuts!

  24. TBW3011

    Thanks Stephen. Way to make the o-line block in the second half and gain some continuity. It was all you!!!!

    1. east-ky-boy

      Dude u are insane. It’s working! Barker is a head case. I bet u don’t actually go games and see how much he sucks in person lol. There’s always that one racist idiot. You’re that