LEXINGTON, Ky. — The scoreboard almost ran out of juice in this one as Kentucky and New Mexico State combined for the highest scoring regulation game in Commonwealth Stadium history.
Starting QB Drew Barker was injured on the first series but backup Stephen Johnson entered and stole the show. He led Kentucky to a 62-42 win along with sophomore tight end C.J. Conrad and freshman RB Benny Snell — a trifecta no one penciled in before this one.
Here’s how it happened:
Barker threw an interception to end UK’s first drive, and his last drive, of the day. Barker never returned with a leg injury but Johnson was the spark the team needed. He threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns without turning it over. Even if Barker is healthy next weekend, it’d be hard to sit Johnson against South Carolina — even if he put up those numbers against a lowly New Mexico State defense.
Benny Snell is ready to play. He proved that today. The freshman running back entered the game with zero career carries but he rumbled for 136 yards and a whopping four touchdowns against New Mexico State.
And he’s really strong, just watch this.
— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) September 17, 2016
How will UK’s defense ever get better?
Southern Miss scored 44, Florida hung 45 and New Mexico State got in on the fun for 42 points. Coach Mark Stoops took a bigger role on defense this week but it didn’t help. The Aggies cruised for 500 yards.
The offenses didn’t have trouble Saturday. Kentucky and New Mexico State combined for 1,192 total yards. Kentucky had 311 passing yards and 381 rushing yards.
What it means
Johnson might be the new leader of UK’s offense and Benny Snell is a great compliment to Boom Williams in the backfield. It’s hard to gauge the offense’s inflated numbers because of a bad New Mexico State team, but the Wildcats defense proved it’s worse than its harshest critics thought. The defense is showing no signs of improvement.