Saturday’s game showed who the starting quarterback is for UK


Stephen Johnson #15 of the Kentucky Wildcats looks at space before rushing for a touchdown during the game against EKU on Saturday, September 9, 2017 in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky defeated EKU 27-16. Photo by Carter Gossett | Staff

Matt Donaldson

Coming off of an up and down performance that ultimately lead to a 27-16 win, the Kentucky Wildcats seem to have finally resolved their starting quarterback issue. Quarterback Stephen Johnson got the initial start, but the team only managed to score a field goal in the early drives of the game. 

The third drive of the game reintroduced junior quarterback Drew Barker to the Big Blue Nation after a shaky start for Johnson. However, whether Johnson was struggling or not, it was Mark Stoops’ plan all along to bring Barker into the game on the third drive. 

“We had to get Drew back out there and get his confidence up and get him playing and get him some snaps, see what he can do,” Stoops said. 

Barker’s return to the field didn’t go as well as he hoped, and after two 3rd down sacks on consecutive drives, Stoops made the call to bring back Johnson for the remainder of the game.

Johnson’s performance improved dramatically from that point on and it seemed clear that he had earned the starting job for the Cats.

Johnson finished the game with an impressive stat line, completing 15 of 22 passes for 224 yards and a touchdown, as well as rushing for 48 yards and a touchdown. Johnson’s performance combined with the dual threat running attack of Benny Snell Jr. and Sihiem King, who combined for 164 yards and a touchdown, lead the Wildcats to a 2-0 record to start the season.

Benny Snell Jr. did appear to suffer an injury to the ribs in the first quarter and later returned to the game. Stoops clarified in his postgame press conference that the star running back will be okay going forward. 

“Yeah, those can be painful injuries, they x-rayed him, they were negative, he’s fine, it comes down to a bruise,” said Stoops regarding Snell’s rib injury.

Despite the win, Coach Stoops feels there is a lot that the team can improve on before next weeks game where the Cats will look to remain undefeated.

“It feels very good to be 2-0, we know we got a lot more in us,” said Stoops.

The Wildcats will look to improve their defense and get off to a much faster start next week when they travel down to South Carolina to take on the Gamecocks in a conference game.