After stepping in for an injured Drew Barker and putting up one of the best offensive games in UK Football history, Stephen Johnson was a hot topic on today’s SEC Coaches Teleconference. Against New Mexico State, Johnson went 17-22 for 310 yards and three touchdowns passing and also carried the ball 10 times for 51 yards. When asked if he foresaw the backup JuCo transfer playing so well in such a pressure-packed situation, Mark Stoops admitted that while he had high hopes for Johnson, he didn’t see that kind of performance coming.
“Yeah, to answer your question honestly, I wasn’t sure I saw that coming,” Stoops said. “I had all the confidence that he would move the football, that we would get on pace. Our offensive players believe in him. We’ve talked about him for a long time because we knew he showed signs in practice to be a very efficient at running the offense. He’s a very conscientious kid, he works extremely hard, he wants to perform well for his team and he has some talent. We knew he’d be good, but to see him play that well, I don’t know if I saw that coming.”
“You take that first series away, and he was unbelievably efficient. The first series, you could see the jitters, he was a little nervous and the next series, he settled in — of course, our run game helped settle him in a little bit, got the big run from Boom, but then he went out there and operated the offense and was very comfortable, very poised, and very efficient.”
Quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw is responsible for finding Johnson, and Stoops summed up the thoughts of the entire fan base when he said thank goodness he did.
“Coach Hinshaw did a heck of a job. We definitely felt like we needed some experience there and we did look around,” Stoops said. “Once they brought in Stephen, and we looked at him, and brought him in on a visit, we were sold. I’m sure glad we have him right now.“
Same, Coach, same.