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Transformation Terry: The Night and Day Difference in Year Two of the Terry Wilson Era

Entering the 2018 Kentucky football season, the Cats had one big question mark: quarterback.

Mark Stoops had an elite pass rusher, a secondary filled with three and four-year starters, a massive offensive line and a running back proclaiming himself as the best in the SEC. To ensure it was a successful season, Eddie Gran and Darin Hinshaw needed steady quarterback play. Terry Wilson answered the call, completing 67.2 percent of his passes (second-best in school history) to help lead Kentucky to its first ten-win season in 41 years. Even so, Wilson still has his detractors.

“I, I, I just don’t get it when people talk about Terry. Dude, he won ten games. He went to Florida and won,” said the man who recruited Wilson to UK, Vince Marrow. “Terry was really like a true freshman last year. I know when I went and recruited Terry, I know what other coaches were sitting in those stands — Texas, Nebraska, Florida. Tom Herman wanted him real bad. Scott Frost wanted him real bad. I think the kid’s going to make the biggest jump. I think Darin Hinshaw is transitioning for a big year this year.”

Even though there are plenty of positives on his résumé, Wilson will be the first to point out his shortcomings.

A year ago, my eyes were super-wide. Now I’m just calm, relaxed,” Wilson said. “I feel like that’s my personality. Now that I have a season under my belt, it’s going to be just like that on the field, just more dynamic.”

Former Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy vividly remembers his first wide-eyed start against Bud Foster’s Virginia Tech defense. He was seeing ghosts, flinching at potential blitzes before every snap. He started the game 2-for-10 with an interception before ultimately leading Alabama to a victory. Fast forward to the following season and McElroy was a completely different quarterback.

“I think as a second year player you learn how to take it in stride a little bit better. Your comfort level within the offense probably grows significantly. And over the course of a 13, 14, 15-game season, you’re going to see just about everything that you’re likely to see,” he told KSR at SEC Media Days.

“I think once you’ve seen it once, you can be spooked; probably not going to be spooked the second time. I just remember feeling so much more comfortable the second year. I was such a better player, it wasn’t even close. I was more accurate. I was more decisive. I had better chemistry with my wide receivers. I was more willing to get to the line of scrimmage and adjust things on the fly. It was second-nature, as opposed to the first year, you can talk yourself into some things that aren’t necessarily happening.”

McElroy believes Wilson is prepared to take a significant step forward after successfully treading water as a first-year starter.

“Terry Wilson, from year one to year two you just get so much more comfortable. You see things faster, you can confidently throw it in windows you maybe didn’t trust yourself the year before and they’re going to need him. He needs to step up big time because he has the potential, he has the ability. It’s just a matter of actually going out there and doing it with a different supporting cast.”

What McElroy described as a”night and day” difference as a second-year starter is exactly what Wilson believes he improved the most over the offseason. Coincidence? I think not.

“Just recognizing defenses, noticing what defense it is, seeing it fast, seeing it quick and knowing where I got to go with the football,” Wilson said at UK Media Day.

At Texas A&M, Terry was indecisive. He had the look of an over-prepared Greg McElroy. As a result, he took too much time and too many sacks. Wilson was sacked 28 times in 2018, ranked 68th in the nation and tenth in the SEC. Some of those can be attributed to the offensive line, but many fall on Wilson’s shoulders.

It took me a minute last year to get comfortable,” Wilson said. “If you don’t know the blitz, you’re going to get hit in the mouth. You just gotta make sure you know where everything’s coming from.”

While Wilson’s football IQ grew in the film room, he didn’t take any time off in the weight room.

“If you didn’t know Terry when he walked in, you’d think he’s an outside backer, maybe a Will linebacker or a big, SEC-type receiver,” said Marrow. “I mean, he looks good and the boy can run.”

Wilson’s rushing stats slipped after he suffered some minor injuries against Mississippi State. The extra muscle should help him weather the contact this fall. Confident that part of the game will take care of itself, Wilson spent the entire offseason breaking down his throwing mechanics. The months and months of work should put bad habits to rest for good.

“The whole spring we were working on fundamentals and stuff like that; trying to fix the little things that was hurting during the season,” said Wilson. “Going through that, fixing that everyday through spring, doing it own my own on the weekend, going through the summer and doing it my own with the quarterbacks, doing it in 7-on-7, it just kind of became natural. Those little fundamental things are getting me in the right position to throw the ball and be accurate. I took a huge stride in that.”

Offensive coordinator Eddie Gran saw the improvements this spring manifested in his ability to connect more consistently on deep balls. Still, it’s an ongoing process. The primary focus on the passing game in the early preseason is making routine passes look routine.

“He has worked awfully hard. I think you saw the improvement in the spring at throwing the deep ball,” Gran said.

“We’ve got to be great at the little things. Last year we missed just throwing the ball, we missed a bubble throw 30 times. You’re talking about your slot receivers, Lynn being that most of the time, where he could have thrown that out there. Say just we get half of them right there, that’s 15 more touches for your best player. He’s going to improve on those things in our RPO game.”

Terry Wilson has all of the tools to be an exceptional quarterback at the University of Kentucky. Thrown directly into the fire, Wilson did not flinch under the bright lights at Florida in just his second college football game. As SEC defenses threw more his way, he learned countless lessons as a first-year starter. Those lessons transformed Terry Wilson into a confident quarterback that’s prepared to keep the Cats on a winning path in 2019.

“I think what he’s begun with his technique, fundamentals over the offseason, I don’t think there’s any question he’s going to be a better football player,” said Gran.


Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR

42 Comments for Transformation Terry: The Night and Day Difference in Year Two of the Terry Wilson Era

  1. ukkatzfan
    9:16 pm August 5, 2019 Permalink

    I like our chances with TD Terry this year. I expect a better team than last year. I believe we will #BringIt.

  2. Mad Max
    9:20 pm August 5, 2019 Permalink

    Don’t get any hate at all for Terry. Basicallly a freshman led us to our greatest season in 4 decades.

    Kid has all of the tools to be great.

    Trolls are just as tools…

    • nocode96
      9:57 pm August 5, 2019 Permalink

      Everybody knows why those tools don’t like Terry, always best to make them look dumb then ignore them.

    • IndianaSucks
      11:58 pm August 5, 2019 Permalink

      Why don’t they like him?

  3. ColoradoCatFan88
    9:57 pm August 5, 2019 Permalink

    Not a troll, just call it like I see it. We weren’t led by our quarterback last season. We were led by our loaded defense & the greatest running back that our program has ever had. Let’s hope we see a different/better version of Wilson this season..

    • CombatMedic_98
      10:01 pm August 5, 2019 Permalink

      True/Facts. However, he stayed in there and the team prevailed over some weak spots.

    • mashburnfan1
      12:45 am August 6, 2019 Permalink

      Colorado….FR seldom play in the SEC or any level, especially QB. Heck #1 rated HS QB Fields left UGA cause he did not get playing time. Terry, in terms of playing time, was a FR last year. In an ideal world you would not want to depend on any FR to have a great season. You are right, we wee not lead by our QB because he was a freakin FR {in terms of playing at this level}. You know what else Terry did not do, LOSE us games. Even Tua did not play much as a FR until Bama got desperate at halftime of title game. Name me any FR {outside of Trevor at Clemson} that led their team to a 7-6 or better season the last 5 years. Even at UGA they did not rely on Fromm his FR season but even his case is rare. Terry went in to Gainesville and did what no UK QB has done in 40 plus years, not Couch, Woodson, Pookie, Hefty etc. and yes he was a big part of that win. We should learn from the basketball team, is tough for FR to adjust to this level of play and in basketball we normally have the top FR in the Country and they struggle for the most part.

  4. dylangeorge7988
    10:25 pm August 5, 2019 Permalink

    Maybe I dreamed it all, but didn’t Wilson hit that dime TD for the win at Mizzou?

    And the dime to Bowden that silenced the Swamp? Oh… And that dime TD to Bowden against Vandy?

    Wilson is going to be eeven better this year. I expect more big things.

    • 4everUKblue
      10:34 pm August 5, 2019 Permalink

      How dare you bring those facts in here like that dylangeorge. That was an absolute perfectly thrown bomb to Bowden in the Swamp!

    • mashburnfan1
      12:49 am August 6, 2019 Permalink

      And threw a more nice passes in that 1:25 drive to beat Mizzou. Also had some big 3rd down passes dropped by Baker in that game, if caught we may never have been in that last second desperation ….who knows

    • 4everUKblue
      1:28 am August 6, 2019 Permalink

      I just watched the Florida game again, TW was a big part of the reason we won that game, he made some huge plays with his arm and his legs. The first TD pass to Bouvier was also a thing of beauty, he can run like a deer and has cannon of an arm.

    • kjd
      3:37 pm August 6, 2019 Permalink

      The “dime” to CJ wasn’t thrown until CJ pushed off to get wide open.
      We need more than one dime a game this year.
      I hope he’s transformed as Nick proclaims. Kroger Field will be rocking.

  5. AreJ
    11:36 pm August 5, 2019 Permalink

    I think people really over looked exactly what this article pointed out, TT was essential a freshman starting in his first real big boy action. IF he cleans up the routine plays, makes the right reads, and can connect on the deep ball at an efficient clip we could have an explosive offense. I’ve always been a TT guy, he fits the mold Stoops/Gran like and can absolutely bust big plays with his legs but you add pop with the passing attack and he is a legit top 5 SEC QB.

  6. DelrayCat
    11:51 pm August 5, 2019 Permalink

    I re-watched the UL games recently and Terry was awesome in that game. Granted UL was a disaster last year, but if he can play that well or better all year Cats will win 8-9 or more for sure.

    • kjd
      4:53 pm August 6, 2019 Permalink

      If he plays against bad teams all year, Wilson will play good, we’ll win. That’s what you are saying.

    • CopenhagenCat
      10:34 pm August 6, 2019 Permalink

      I been telling my buddies he is going to be good but give him time. Some of the play calling he had no chance. Now it’s his second year he should improve and hopefully they let him throw the ball more to improve

  7. cathatter
    7:09 am August 6, 2019 Permalink

    Not sure about all the hype – you can scrimmage til the cows come home but its actual game play that will determine how much improvement we’ll see from TW. He had his moments last year but also disappeared at times. UK will need solid qb play if they want to sniff last years record.

  8. Le Docteur
    7:25 am August 6, 2019 Permalink

    Since Wilson announced that he was coming to UK, Nick Roush has been writing as if his personal hopes and dreams about Wilson were the reality of Wilson. People aren’t hating on Wilson, they are hating on the so-far unjustified hype. And Roush’s love affair with Wilson led him to write unfairly about Wilson’s rivals. And that drew some justified hate too. Everyone wants Wilson to be what Roush’s wet dream says he already is. Meanwhile, so long as Roush keeps telling us things our own eyes say aren’t true about Wilson, there will be discord.

    • CatfaninCinci
      8:42 am August 6, 2019 Permalink

      I would slightly modify Stoops statement. Terry Wilson did not win 10 games, he won 2 games for us. 8 games, he did not lose, which to his credit, is indeed a credit, but those games were won by a immovable defense and a pounding RB.

      I’ve been one of the ‘haters’ thus far. I won’t hide from it. I’m not sold on Wilson. I will say, the logic makes sense that he should jump in his second year. I worry the jump needed may not be possible, due to how bad statistically he was last year. Bottom 5 in division 1 in throwing attempts, bottom 10% in yards. A ton of sacks and turnovers. Him saying his eyes were big is a huge understatement. Words can’t quite quantify how big they were.

      I differ from most haters (like Mashburnfan1 in basketball) however, if Terry comes out 7-1 lighting the world on fire, Roush can start a haters eat your crow now thread and I’ll be the first to post saying I was wrong. Will be happy to actually. I WANT to be wrong.

      I just want to see that kind of result. That’s the #EasyMoney result. That’s an eating crow result. If we are 3-4 or 4-3 out of the first 7, that’s not easy money folks. That’s probably realistic. I’m saying quit suggesting otherwise. Because you’ll piss more people off by getting their hopes up and underachieving than you will being all pleasantly surprised like we were last year.

    • 4everUKblue
      8:42 am August 6, 2019 Permalink

      If you truly are doctor you really need to stick to that because your comments always suck, I’d bet your service to your patients do as well.

    • StillBP
      9:00 am August 6, 2019 Permalink

      “justified hate”… About a young man playing quarterback. You have issues, see a therapist.

    • Le Docteur
      7:22 pm August 6, 2019 Permalink

      Genius: the “justified hate” was directed AT ROUSH for his unfair treatment of Wilson’s QB rivals. As a former college athlete, I defy you to find any comment of mine that directs hate at the athlete.

    • StillBP
      9:03 am August 6, 2019 Permalink

      Seems reasonable to question how good he is, but the “he sucks” and “Terrible Terry” comments are just immature. I’ll take Vince Marrow’s opinion on his play over yours and the other haters.

    • mashburnfan1
      10:34 am August 6, 2019 Permalink

      Cinci did you watch the games? His stats may be that {Throwing attempts and yards} but that is not his fault. He ran the plays Gran called, and even the coaches say they planned that. Dude was a FR {in terms of playing time} and you haters act like he should have thrown for 4000 yards and 30 touchdowns with like 2 int. Again please name me 1 FR at any position {other than Trevor at Clemson and Bryant would have won the title had they left him at QB with that team} that LED their team to at least a 7-6 record…not saying Terry led us to 10-3 just saying no FR makes that much impact, or at least it is rare if it happens.

    • CatfaninCinci
      11:42 am August 6, 2019 Permalink

      Watched all of them. Yeah, he ran the plays coach called. The obvious question here is, why did Gran call those plays when he did? Could it possibly be because he knew he had a QB with eyes the size hay bales out there? Something even Wilson admits? Probably.

      Let me give you some stats here. And you guess the QB comparison. The fact that these two QBs statistically are in the same realm in both their first years starting tells everything you need to know. These are passing stats alone and total turnovers…

      Player 1 – 162/300 for 1960yrds 8 TD and 15 total turnovers (INT&fumbles)
      Player 2 – 180/268 for 1889 11 TD and 12 total turnovers (INT/Fumbles)

      Hint player 2 is Terry…

    • CatfaninCinci
      11:44 am August 6, 2019 Permalink

      Player 1 is Jawon ‘Puma’ Pass.

      Terry only slightly statically beats PUMA FREAKING PASS!!!

    • CatfaninCinci
      11:47 am August 6, 2019 Permalink

      That’s just throwing the ball… But still…

  9. VMI1957
    7:31 am August 6, 2019 Permalink

    UK won’t sniff anything but a 3-9 record. Lousy QB in Wilson, porous defense especially in the secondary, guys who don’t know how to tackle and a D Line that is atrocious.

    • 4everUKblue
      8:44 am August 6, 2019 Permalink

      So how is your UofLittleBro football team doing? You should stick to cards chronicles.

    • ClutchCargo
      8:54 am August 6, 2019 Permalink

      You really suck at trolling. Are you actually trying?.

    • mashburnfan1
      10:37 am August 6, 2019 Permalink

      lol…Dline will be among the best in football. PLEASE show up game 1 and bring about $5000 with you. Would love for you to put your money where your typing is.

  10. CatfaninCinci
    7:51 am August 6, 2019 Permalink

    My response is being moderated guys.

    • CatfaninCinci
      8:09 am August 6, 2019 Permalink

      I must have struck a chord with some of my last posts… No big deal.

    • StillBP
      8:59 am August 6, 2019 Permalink

      The mod bot is weird. It’s moderated my posts that were positive comments before. There are certain words it doesn’t like, but I don’t know what those words are

    • mashburnfan1
      10:41 am August 6, 2019 Permalink

      Happens when you make stupid comments. And I don’t hate on the bball team, I hate on the Cal one and done BS. It can’t win a title and facts show that. Is great we have multiple guys back and hope thee new FR we can have 1 or 2 be all everything and we may have a shot. Will know what we have about January like all other seasons.

    • StillBP
      10:51 am August 6, 2019 Permalink

      Mashtroll if it happens when you make stupid comments, most of the comments on this site wouldn’t go through, including plenty of yours. VMI’s stupid comment above wouldn’t have made it.

    • CatfaninCinci
      11:31 am August 6, 2019 Permalink

      Mashburnfan1 talking about ‘others’ stupid comments. That wins the internet today folks. We can all go home and laugh it up.

  11. Larkin123
    9:28 am August 6, 2019 Permalink

    Did he deserve the ten game credit some on here point too… maybe, but it makes me cringe to read that lol… I was for giving Gunner a shot last but Terry was the long term solution. He had stats like Woodson in his soph year. Go look up stats… Granted Terry is more run less pass, but he had the same deer in the headlights look as Andre… with potential

  12. ukisgr8
    10:11 am August 6, 2019 Permalink

    Not a knock on terry but we won last year because of defense and snell. Terry has the tools to be successful and hopefully was able to work on some of his weaknesses during the off-season because we are gonna need to score a bunch of points this year

  13. CatfaninCinci
    10:39 am August 6, 2019 Permalink

    I’ll tell you what Roush… I’ll make a bet with you. If we come out of the first 6 games 4-2. Just 4-2, you can post a ‘Haters eat your crow’ post and I will apologize. But if we come out 3-3, you have to post on here saying you ‘might have’ overblown and out of line your #EasyMoney the Cats 6.5 wins comments were, and you have to apologize for them… Because at that point, either way, it’s gonna be a dogfight for 7 wins.

    Bet me. Man up son! I’m calling you out!