Kentucky’s starting quarterback has quite a bit in common with the man that just led UK to consecutive seven-win seasons.
Just like Stephen Johnson, Terry Wilson is a mobile quarterback. The junior college transfers had little time to adjust to life in the SEC, but it did not take long to see success. Johnson won his first two games as UK’s starter, including one on the road in the SEC. Wilson has done the same and been just as effective.
Kentucky’s QBs in First Two Career Starts
|Stephen Johnson||Terry Wilson|
|Opponents||New Mexico State*, South Carolina||Central Michigan, at Florida|
|Completions||28-of-41 (68.2%)||22-of-34 (64.7%)|
|Rushing Yards||60 (4.6 ypc)||143 (7.5 ypc)|
* Johnson didn’t technically start, but relieved Drew Barker after the first series.
The statistics reveal the obvious — Wilson has struggled with ball security in his first two games as a starter. It’s something Johnson had to battle throughout his first season. Johnson’s fumble near the goal line against Mississippi State nearly cost the Cats a win, but as he became more experienced, ball security became less of a problem. Mark Stoops does not expect that problem to linger for Wilson.
“We will continue to work on that,” Stoops said at Monday’s press conference. “You never want him to play with any fear; you want him confident in making throws and things of that nature. Securing the football, fumbles is something that we cannot tolerate and won’t tolerate. We have to continue to harp on that and get better.”
Johnson’s early weaknesses were quickly forgotten after he showed poise in close games. His best quality as the leader of Kentucky’s offense was his steady demeanor. He never got too high or too low. Stoops and Eddie Gran are already seeing that same quality in Terry Touchdown.
“There was absolutely no worry in his eyes at halftime. He knew he made a mistake and was frustrated by it but he’s got a very calm demeanor about him, much like Stephen. He had a lot of confidence in himself that he would go out and play well during the second half,” said Stoops.
Gran never saw Wilson’s confidence sway.
“I grabbed him after the fumble and looked at him in his eyes and patted him on the head and said let’s go. It’s a long game, take care of the ball. He said, ‘Yes sir, and let’s go.’”
Wilson faced the same defensive coordinator in The Swamp that Johnson faced at Louisville, Todd Grantham. Gran compared Terry’s performance at Florida to what Stephen did at Louisville.
“I think the decision making was fast. If something broke down, or something wasn’t right he ran with the ball,” Gran said. “It reminded me of the same things. He made quick decisions, and when it wasn’t there, he made (a play).”
In his first start, Wilson will be the first to admit he was a little nervous. After getting thrown into the fire, nothing could faze him at Florida.
“I didn’t let the mistakes get to me. I gotta limit my mistakes and stuff like that, but I just feel like I’m more comfortable,” Wilson said.
“I just did what the coaches asked of me and didn’t really try to do too much, just play my game. It’s crazy because I didn’t feel like big things were happening. I was just out there playing ball. It was crazy when I watched the film and seen the plays I was doing.”
It’s unfair to compare Wilson to his successful predecessor after just two games. Stephen Johnson helped take Kentucky’s program to new heights and is one of the Big Blue Nation’s most beloved players. However, it’s hard not to dream big dreams with Terry Wilson under center.
Wilson is a natural playmaker that makes the most athletic feats look simple. Before the season we knew he had all of the physical traits to surpass his predecessor. In two games Wilson has already showed the coaches he has the same intangibles that made Stephen successful. When Terry Touchdown consistently puts it all together, the sky is the limit.