Terry Wilson’s physical gifts were apparent in his first season as UK’s starting quarterback. He recorded the second-most rushing yards (547) and yards per rush (4.1) among SEC quarterbacks. Wilson did have his share of struggles, however. He was 13th in the conference with only 11 touchdown passes and fifth from the bottom with eight interceptions. He also posted the 12th highest passing yards and recorded the fourth-most sacks with 28.
His inconsistency led the Cats’ coaching staff to consider replacing him and to experiment with Wilson, Gunnar Hoak and Danny Clark all in the same game against Missouri. It also contributed to Athlon Sports (in their preseason rankings) ranking him the No. 12 quarterback in the SEC in 2019. However, Wilson’s difficulties—along with the stellar accomplishments of Benny Snell and Josh Allen—may have overshadowed the great moments he had last season.
Although he threw two interceptions in the first half, Wilson accounted for all three of UK’s touchdowns—two through the air and one on the ground—in a victory over Florida in the Swamp that ended a 31-year losing streak. In the Missouri game, Wilson struggled until the final drive, where he went 6-6 passing and threw a game-winning touchdown pass to C.J. Conrad on an untimed play.
ALL SUMMA LONG! ? pic.twitter.com/s4k6brcNLX
— Terry Wilson (@TerryTouchdown3) May 26, 2019
Wilson’s lower passing totals are a function of his supporting cast. He had the third-best completion percentage in the SEC last year at 67.2%, but only the 12th-most pass attempts. This, and the fact he only scored four rushing touchdowns on the year, is due in part to having Benny Snell in the backfield. It’s yet to be seen how his stats will fare with increased reps, but his numbers show promise nonetheless.
What hurt Wilson more than anything during his debut season was a lack of experience. On a third-and-two in a road game against Texas A&M in overtime, Wilson scrambled and took an eight-yard sack, putting the Wildcats just out of field goal range (as Miles Butler’s attempt bounced off the crossbar). That’s a mistake that a first-year SEC quarterback makes.
Of course, Wilson will no longer have the play of Snell, Allen or the entire starting secondary to fall back on, but he still has weapons. Wide receivers Lynn Bowden, Josh Ali and Ahmad Wagner are offensive threats, and A.J. Rose has shown the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.
Wilson is a dynamic player and can be a difference-maker for this team. He has the tools to be a dual-threat nightmare for opponents, and he needs to take his experience from his first year in the SEC to develop as a playmaker. With the Cats much more dependent on Wilson’s play to have success this year, the question is whether Touchdown Terry will take the next step and lead UK to another special year.