Kentucky’s TaxSlayer Bowl appearance gave fans plenty to gripe about, but we cannot let people forget who played well on the biggest stage of the 2016 season.
Stephen Johnson received MVP honors for Kentucky following the game. With 175 passing yards and 49 rushing yards, Kentucky’s quarterback accounted for 69% of UK’s total offensive yards. He also threw an impressive touchdown pass to Dorian Baker and dove into the end zone for another score. Despite Johnson’s numbers, the analysts at Pro Football Focus did not give him UK’s highest grade.
After multiple eyes reviewed the game multiple times, each player is assessed a grade by PFF. Their top performer is a name some may have never heard of until now: T.J. Carter.
PFF’s Top TaxSlayer Bowl Performers
- DT T.J. Carter, 80.0
- RG Jervontius “Bunchy” Stallings, 78.5
- LT Landon Young, 77.9
- CB Derrick Baity, 75.4
- OLB Denzil Ware, 74.5
- WR Dorian Baker, 69.0
- WR Garrett Johnson, 68.0
- OLB Josh Allen, 67.4
- CB J.D. Harmon, 66.4
- HB Stanley Williams, 61.5
- QB Stephen Johnson, 61.5
Carter is a true freshman who was forced to fill in for the injured senior captain, Courtney Miggins. Carter only had two tackles, but maintained gap integrity and came up with a crucial pass break up on third down in Tech’s first drive.
Even though Baity kind of blew it by playing too aggressively on UK’s final third down, he was the best performer in the secondary and provided exceptional run support. Denzil Ware and Josh Allen’s high grades prove the defense was sound and disciplined against Tech’s triple option attack on the outside. The absence of any interior defenders shows just how badly Tech’s offense gutted the defense up the middle.
Some do not like the metrics and advanced analysis, but it’s undeniably exciting to see Carter earn this accolade in his first significant appearance as a Wildcat. The future is bright for the true freshman defensive tackle and the young Kentucky defensive line.