There are plenty of things to gripe about from Saturday’s loss, but the offense is not one of them. Kentucky put up 41 points and over 400 rushing yards, which resulted in high marks from Pro Football Focus. According to PFF’s grading scale, Wilson was the second-highest graded quarterback of the week in college football; his favorite target, Josh Ali, the second-highest graded wideout; and running back Chris Rodriguez the highest-graded running back. Today, Mark Stoops said he liked what he saw from both the running and passing game, particularly Terry Wilson, who answered the staff’s call after a shaky performance in the opener vs. Auburn.
“Very pleased with Terry Wilson. I really thought he bounced back. We challenged him after the opener, he came back in the second game there and played really well. Rushed for 147 yards and we need to put some of that on him. We wanted to put some pressure on their defense with our Q run game. That adds a lot of pressure on a defense. You can see how effective we were running the ball. Also throwing the ball, he was very effective. Fourteen of 18 for 151 yards. Really with just two complete drops, he’s gonna throw for 200 yards and rush for 147 and could have been more in the pass game easily, we were just having so much success in the run game.”
That’s an understatement. In addition to Terry’s 129 rushing yards and three touchdowns on the ground, Rodriguez had 17 carries for 133 yards and two touchdowns, AJ Rose 12 carries for 117 yards and one touchdown, and Kavosiey Smoke — who sat out the second half with a broken rib and will be out for a few weeks — five carries for 29 yards. Terry also threw for 184 yards off 14-18 attempts; seven of those passes were to Ali, who led Kentucky in receiving with 88 yards.
“I think they’ve both been working really well together,” Stoops said of Terry and Ali. “They’ve both been working really hard. I want to say both games, I know this past game, and I think it was Josh in the first game, we had another explosive play there. We had a shot down the field, possibly a touchdown, certainly a big play if we get a fraction more protection.”
“Josh made two or three really difficult catches, that’s what good wideouts have to do. Terry throws the ball up, puts it in a spot, Josh made a couple of nice catches and that’s how we’re going to continue to elevate the passing game and get more and more confidence.”
Take out redshirt freshman wide receiver DeMarcus Harris’ drops and Terry’s numbers would have been even more impressive, but Stoops said he was most pleased with the senior quarterback’s decision making.
“According to our receiver coach, it was three drops. One of them was an unbelievable throw that would have been a great catch on the sideline but I really considered two flat drops and so he could have been 16-18. If you make a great catch at wideout, he could have been 17-18. And if you look at the runs and the decision making you just mentioned, it makes me think of the play that he got called back. How long was that run that he got called back on the hold? That had to be another 20 yard run on a pass play that was a very good decision.
“But he did make good decisions. He went through his progressions. I thought he was very efficient in the passing game and again, one play in particular, just give him a touch more protection and we’ve got a chance at a real explosive pass play. I thought he did a really good job. I had a lot of confidence in him throwing the ball Saturday with efficiency. Again, I appreciate him and the team doing the things necessary with how, really how explosive they were playing offensively and we were having success in the run game and we had to stay with that. When you rush for 408 [yards], you’ve got to be an idiot to deviate from that.”
True that, especially when your quarterback is one of the guys rushing for over 100 yards. A year after a season-ending patellar tendon injury, Terry didn’t show any hesitation on the ground vs. Ole Miss, which Stoops said gave the offense a dimension it didn’t have vs. Auburn in Week 1.
“I saw it to some degree on the perimeter-type stuff,” Stoops said of Terry’s speed and burst. “In the first game, because of scheme and everything, we didn’t ask him to hit it straight downhill with some of the read game that we did with Lynn [Bowden]. This week, we did. We ran straight power play with him several times and he hit it and he hit it good. That, I was impressed with. And that, we challenged him with. That, we have to have out of him. That is one of his skill sets. He is a dynamic runner and he is getting stronger. That leg is completely healed. And I appreciate the fact that he went in there and stuck his nose in there and yes, he got yards on scrambles and bought time to look down the field. I always felt like he had a good feel for that but in some of the designed Q run game, I thought he took a big step forward and that’s good to see and that puts pressure on defenses.”
I like my offense.
Highest-graded QBs in Wk 5 of College Football:
1. Zach Wilson, BYU – 92.3
2. Terry Wilson, Kentucky – 92.0
3. Matt Corral, Ole Miss – 90.3
3. Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh – 90.3 pic.twitter.com/pL5RvyuQZq
— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 4, 2020
Highest-graded power five WRs in Wk 5:
1. Kearis Jackson, Georgia – 91.4
2. Josh Ali, Kentucky – 89.8
3. Tylan Wallace, Oklahoma St – 84.6
4. John Metchie III, Alabama – 84.3 pic.twitter.com/e93mntL9BW
— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 5, 2020
Highest-graded RBs in Wk 5 of College Football:
1. Chris Rodriguez Jr, Kentucky – 89.0
2. John Emery Jr, LSU – 82.3
3. Deuce Vaughn, K-State – 81.8
4. Khalil Herbert, VA Tech – 81.6 pic.twitter.com/vYHwMNH2e6
— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 5, 2020