By LARRY VAUGHT
Everything quarterback Stephen Johnson did during last week’s 62-42 win over New Mexico State was impressive.
For me, what he did after the game was even more impressive. For the first time in his UK career, the junior college transfer was the postgame star. He was surrounded by TV cameras and other media members after throwing for over 300 yards and his first three UK touchdowns.
But he acted like it was no big deal. Johnson indicated he expected to play well and did nothing out of the ordinary. He was humble and thankful.
He knew it was New Mexico State, not Florida that easily shut down the UK offense and now injured quarterback Drew Barker a week earlier.
“It is a little bit overwhelming, but nothing I can’t handle I guess. It is phenomenal to be here and have this win with my teammates. They are the ones who deserve the attention,” said Johnson. “As the game progressed I got more calm. Just settled down, prayed a little bit and let the game come to me.”
He wanted to talk more about teammates than himself. Start with running backs Boom Williams and Benny Snell, who both rushed for over 100 yards.
“That makes my job 100 times easier. If they can run the ball and get first downs, it opens up a wide variety of things we can do as an offense,” Johnson said.
Like go to tight end C.J. Conrad, who had three touchdown catches.
“I know he did a phenomenal job. He really extended plays with his legs and body. He just hit people and kept on going,” Johnson said. “If we can get the ball to everybody and move down the field, that is what I want to do.”
Of course, doing that against South Carolina tonight will be a lot harder. The Gamecocks might not be a top 10 team, but the South Carolina defense can be fast and nasty. Johnson won’t run away from defenders. Receivers won’t be as open. His decisions will have to come quicker. Barker can vouch for that.
“I do not need to try to do anything spectacular. I have been preparing for this, so don’t try to do anything wild,” Johnson said.