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Stephen Johnson isn’t perfect, but he’s 4-1

Mark Zerof | USA Today

 

Mark Zerof | USA Today

Mark Zerof | USA Today

At the end of last season, as Patrick Towles’ time as a Kentucky Wildcat was coming to an end, the talk of the town was how this was going to be Drew Barker’s program now. It was his time to take over and be the hyped-up player he was supposed to be when Stoops and company recruited him out of Conner High School in Northern Kentucky.

For the first half of the Southern Miss game this season, the hype looked to be the real deal. Barker was playing great, hitting receivers in stride and making smart decisions. Then, something changed. He started to take unnecessary chances, most notably on a long throw down the right side of the field that was an easy interception for Southern Miss. Then the Florida debacle happened and the fan-base began to groan about inconsistent quarterback play for what seemed like the 20th season in a row. Those complaints grew louder as Barker threw a pick in his first drive against New Mexico State. NMSU was a team that Barker should have been able to shred with his passing ability, but an injury forced him out of the game(maybe for the season).

Enter Stephen Johnson.

Johnson played really well in his first real action as a Wildcat. He threw for 310 yards, completing 17 of his 22 attempted passes for 3 TDs, to go along with 51 yards on the ground. The Cats got the W, 62-42. Stephen Johnson was 1-0 as the Kentucky quarterback.

South Carolina came to town the following week, and Johnson’s stats dropped pretty hard. He completed 11 of 19 passes for only 135 yards and one pick. He only ran for 6 yards on 13 attempts, and fumbled the ball twice. The game really resembled the last time South Caroline visited Commonwealth Stadium in 2014 where the passing game took a back seat to a very run-heavy offense. The Cats ran for 216 yards and two scores to get the 17-10 victory over the Gamecocks. Stephen Johnson was 2-0 as the Kentucky quarterback.

Johnson’s struggles didn’t stop there. The Cats traveled to Tuscaloosa to take on the best team in the country. The Crimson Tide were going to have their way with the Wildcats, regardless of the effort given by Stephen Johnson. The beginning of the game was promising, though. As Kentucky ran up a commanding 3-0 lead, forced a turnover, and were driving again. The turnover bug bit again, as Johnson fumbled and Alabama took over the drive and the rest of the game. The JUCO transfer went 13/22 for 89 yards, was sacked 4 times for -26 yards, and lost two of his three fumbles. Stephen Johnson lost his first game as the Kentucky quarterback, moving to 2-1.

The game against Vanderbilt is probably when the Stephen Johnson doubters were the most vocal. Johnson threw for only 49 yards on 10 of 24 passing, with an interception. He ran for 55 yards, one of four UK players with 50+ rushing yards on the afternoon. The defense didn’t allow a touchdown, as the Cats got the 20-13 victory. Johnson may have struggled through the air mightily, but he madd the right decisions on check-downs and QB scrambles to put the Wildcats in position to win. Stephen Johnson moved to 3-1 as the Kentucky quarterback.

The bye week brought out the news that Johnson had been battling a wrist injury for a few weeks. Most were hoping that the week off would bring him back to 100% and we’d start to see some of the fantastic passing we saw against New Mexico State.

The first half of last night’s game, we saw more of the same from Stephen Johnson. A few guys were missed on open routes down the field and Kentucky went into halftime down 14-6. The third quarter began and we all saw the big plays we had been missing out of Stephen Johnson. He connected on two long touchdown passes to Jeff Badet, one for 44 yards, while the other went for 40. The excitement and confidence was back with the UK offense. The Cats were about to put the game away as they drove deep into the red zone again, when Johnson lost his second fumble of the game, this one was returned for a score. But, he didn’t get rattled. Johnson kept a calm head and made plays down the stretch to put Austin MacGinnis in position to kick the winning field goal, including a big two big completions to Jeff Badet for 12 and 18 yards. Johnson finished with 292 yards through the air for two touchdowns and 20 yards rushing. Kentucky gets the big win over Mississippi State by the score of 40-38.

Looking back at his stats over five games, Stephen Johnson is averaging 175 yards passing per game, with five touchdowns through the air. This goes along with a rushing touchdown, as well. Johnson has just two picks, but has fumbled the ball 7 times in the past five games. Those numbers aren’t exactly something to write home about. But if those numbers have been enough to put UK in position to win, how much can we complain? I love the saying, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. While the Stephen Johnson led Wildcats aren’t a well-oiled machine, they are a successfully functioning machine. Will a better team take advantage of this level of play in a close game? Maybe. Will this level of play work in every game down the stretch? Maybe not. But for now, it is working. And for a program that has struggled for years, wins are wins. He’s not perfect, but Stephen Johnson is 4-1 as the Kentucky quarterback.

Go Cats. Beat Missouri.

@BrettBibbinsKSR 

Article written by Brett Bibbins

Graduate of the University of Kentucky in 2015. Spend my free time watching sports, The Office or Harry Potter. Three-word phrases to live by: For The Kids and Cats by 90 @BrettBibbinsKSR

12 Comments for Stephen Johnson isn’t perfect, but he’s 4-1



  1. blueballs80
    2:25 pm October 23, 2016 Permalink

    The emergence of Benny has helped Johnson immensely. When in the red zone, just give it to Benny Godamnnit!!



    • cats42301
      7:24 pm October 23, 2016 Permalink

      jrdh13, No support? Where were you when UK enclosed the endzones bringing the capacity to 70k? They don’t do that if the fans don’t support the team. Lots of fans like me and others have sat through many a game over the years until the very end only to be disappointed the majority of games over and over. No program has had more support while giving the fans back little in return than Kentucky football. You must be about 18 or so because obviously you weren’t at games when it was so packed you couldn’t get a ticket. Even back in 1994 the year after the Peach.bowl loss under Curry the first game against Louisville was sold out, it was impossible to get a single game ticket unless you paid big bucks to a scalper. Go do some research and find out game attendance in past years and you’ll find PLENTY of support. Some people had finally reached their breaking point recently and couldn’t take the disappointment of games like Florida in 93 when UK intercepted 7 passes and still lost, the Arkansas 7 OT loss, the Tennessee OT loss when all we needed was a short FG to win, it was blocked, the 2002 Bluegrass miracle and on and on. Were you at those games? No because you were either too young or you weren’t a fan back then like a lot of people. So don’t criticize some fans who just finally had to take a break from the disappointment of many, many games that fans walked back to their vehicles heartbroken over another game where UK snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory. Then once you do your historical research about UK football and fan support you can explain to your girl



  2. jrdh13
    2:44 pm October 23, 2016 Permalink

    How are we all ignoring the fact that our crowd and tailgating scene is worst then high school games.. Every parking lot empty. No wonder you can’t win without support



    • Booby Petrino
      2:52 pm October 23, 2016 Permalink

      Lol is it “worst” than your grammar?



    • THOTsViews
      2:55 pm October 23, 2016 Permalink

      Not sure what argument you’re trying to make… seeing as we have been winning with the level of support provided this year… However, I agree the crowd at the game was disappointing. I was able to find free parking pretty easily (which I shouldn’t complain about) and after half time there were a LOT of empty seats… (not just the student section).

      That being said, if we can get a win at Mizzou, the UGA game will be a better experience. This fanbase needs wins in order to get excited / stay for games. And after decades of Kentucky Football, our older fans should get a pass for this behavior.



    • jrdh13
      4:01 pm October 23, 2016 Permalink

      This is a blog not English class. I took my girl for her first tailgate ever she’s from Cali. And she was blown away by how empty it was. Can’t expect a team to win with no support



    • THOTsViews
      4:34 pm October 23, 2016 Permalink

      Sorry the tailgate didn’t impress your date from Cali… Something tells me you and Manti Te’o have the same taste in women.



  3. BLUEsky
    3:46 pm October 23, 2016 Permalink

    Shows a lot of character for a young person to do what Johnson did last night, and the entire team for that matter. After the fumble, they could have gave up. After that last touchdown drive they could have gave up. Instead, Johnson and his teammates would not accept defeat. They wanted this game and it showed.

    After that last touchdown drive by MS, I slammed my hat against the back of the seats in front of me in disgust. I was literally sick at the stomach. Not for myself, but for the team. I thought, here they had worked so hard to get this important victory and it has come down to this. One minute left to salvage the game.

    After the field goal I was so happy for team. Everyone around me was high-fiving each other–people that didn’t even remotely know each other.

    It was a good night.



    • Kernel Sanders
      4:19 pm October 23, 2016 Permalink

      A win, in any fashion and no matter how ugly, should be cherished by long suffering UK football fans. I agree with what you say as far as UK players showing character when they could have been deflated after MSU’s last TD. They fought hard and deserve a lot of credit.

      However, when you were slamming your hat in disgust after MS’s last TD and were sick to your stomach for the team because they had worked so hard, I was sick to my stomach because of the coaching blunders again. I do not understand why Stoops went for the 2 point conversion at that point in the game, and it nearly cost him. Then the clock management, like several games in the past 3 years, was very questionable to end the game. Stoops was griping to the ref’s about the horse collar tackle non-call on Johnson while the seconds ticked away. It was going to look really bad if we’d blown the end of that game with a timeout or 2 in our back pocket.

      I thought we had numerous “quality control” assistants that are responsible for clock management situations like this. Guess not. Scary.

      A win is a win and it was good to see, but geez can nothing ever come easy for UK football? Ever?



    • BLUEsky
      6:19 pm October 23, 2016 Permalink

      I think going for 2 was the right call myself. The team was moving the ball well and I think it sent a message to the team that coach had confidence in them. On the replay it looked like he made it BTW. We got some really bad calls and no calls. I don’t blame coach for being livid about the no call horse collar. I felt like flipping the ref a bird on that one myself. We won the game. Maybe we should cut the coaches a little slack here?



    • cats42301
      8:36 pm October 23, 2016 Permalink

      Kernel Sanders, Stoops’ decision to go for 2 when the score was 14-12, and at the beginning of the 2nd half, and its subsequent failure in a game where the final score was 40-38 did not almost cost UK the game anymore than the MacGinnis missed FG in the 1st half did, it was just one play/factor in a 60 minute football game of many factors, plays and decisions. It may not have been the decision that the “book”would have called for but it was far from almost costing UK the game.



  4. kykats
    9:36 pm October 23, 2016 Permalink

    Johnson is doing fine. Security an issue but he will improve. When not hurt he can win at a high level. Legs a big asset and throws nice ball. Get off this kids back. Support this team!!😳Open your eyes. We 4-1 with him. 3 sec wins. Who has done more for us in the past? Only Woodson in my memory.