With a 10-4 record, Stephen Johnson has proven himself plenty during his short time at Kentucky, but there was one play Saturday night after which even his biggest doubters said to themselves, “That’s my quarterback.” On 3rd and 8 with 3:45 to go, the Cats were up seven and desperately needed a first down to keep South Carolina from getting the ball back. With the crowd loud, Johnson slipped through the line and scrambled 54 yards before sliding down at the 10-yard line:
Johnson didn’t get the touchdown, but he did put the Cats well within Austin MacGinnis’ range, making it a two-possession game. That’s my quarterback.
My love for him grew even more when the picture came out afterwards of him sticking his tongue out at South Carolina defenders on an earlier scramble, his response to the Gamecocks’ captains’ refusal to shake hands before the game:
That play, in case you were curious:
That’s my quarterback.
Johnson possesses a quiet brand of swagger that we haven’t seen a lot around Kentucky football. His numbers are never flashy — on Saturday, he was 16/25 for 169 yards and one interception, to go along with 7 carries for 74 yards on the ground — but his unflappable nature perfectly suits this team’s blue collar mentality. He does what needs to be done. He thrives when the stakes are high. Saturday’s tongue “trash talk” reminded me of his famous “I love this sh*t” moment just before taking the first snap at Louisville:
He went on to have a career game and led the Cats to an upset for the ages. That’s my quarterback.
And what about when he did “Ls Down” on Finebaum?
– BBN4LIFE (@lahr_uk) January 27, 2017
Yeaaah, that’s my quarterback.
Even after Drew Barker went in for two series vs. Eastern Kentucky, Johnson remained steady, coming back in and marching the team down the field in a five-play, 75-yard drive took just 58 seconds. He capped it off with a gorgeous throw down the middle to CJ Conrad, a play that eluded him at times last season:
Johnson handled Drew’s snaps like a pro, turning what could have been a demoralizing moment into an opportunity to examine EKU’s defense.
“Extremely anxious, but I’m glad it happened,” Johnson said. “Just to get Drew some snaps and me to see how it works from the sideline to just see the defense from a different point of view.”
That’s my quarterback.
Stephen’s poise isn’t surprising once you learn his story. His childhood battle with Tourette’s was documented once again on Saturday during “SEC Nation,” but in this story, we learned how Stephen is using his story to help others. After reading about Stephen overcame the disorder, a family reached out to UK to see if he would speak to their son, Samuel, who is also battling with Tourette’s. Samuel got to meet Stephen after a practice last December in what his parents expected to be a typical meet and greet. The two ended up walking around the practice facility for 30 minutes talking about their experiences. They’ve kept in touch ever since.