They did it. They actually did it.
UK football has beaten Florida. As a kid from Louisville, this streak has been ingrained into Kentucky culture, and has been a part of my life quite literally since I’ve been born. The win on Saturday, as much as it belongs to the program, to Benny Snell Jr., or to Josh Allen, I believe it belongs to Terry Wilson.
Terry “Transferred from JUCO and is playing his first game in front of a loud crowd” Wilson.
Terry “First UK player since Jalen Whitlow against Alabama State in 2013 to rush and pass for 100 yards” Wilson.
Wilson, as many mistakes as he makes (two turnovers – both in the first half), was the primary reason for Kentucky’s success.
This is because Wilson led the Cats in YHHNBG: Yards He Had No Business Getting. He could turn botched offensive line assignments into 14-yard runs and keep drives alive with his legs. When defenses rushed him and left receivers open downfield, Wilson hit them with precise strikes.
Because of Wilson, UK never ran a red zone play. The closest the Cats ever got to the goal line was 21 yards out, when Wilson fake-pitched the ball to A.J. Rose before running the ball all the way to the house for the touchdown. The other two UK touchdowns were passes of 29 and 54 yards to David Bouvier and Lynn Bowden, respectively.
The ability to make dynamic, exciting plays is what won Wilson a starting job. It’s what beat Florida. Without Wilson, the Cats certainly don’t win that game. Whenever the offense seemed to slow, or grind to a halt, such as the 3rd-and-16 the Cats faced before the pass to Bowden, Wilson was there to either save the day, or break it. In the second half, he did a whole lot of saving.
It’s also worth noting the actual level of inexperience that Wilson is dealing with. By far the largest crowd he’s ever played in front of before this game was Central Michigan, where Kroger Field held 49,138 fans reported by UK Athletics. The Swamp in Gainesville held over 80,000 people Saturday night, all rooting against the young transfer that’s faced nothing but doubt, heightened by his four turnovers against the Chippewas.
In short, Wilson’s 256 yards of total offense, while throwing only five incompletions, should be considered the most valuable that could’ve been gained that game. He kept plays and drives alive when they blew up, fell apart, or were otherwise defeated by defensive play calling. Offensive coordinator Eddie Gran’s playbook just got a whole lot thicker.
After Saturday, Wilson might be leading the nation in YHHNBG.