LEXINGTON, Ky. — Stephen Johnson will make his third Kentucky start Saturday against Vanderbilt, and coach Mark Stoops is expecting more out of the junior college transfer as he’s settled into the starting gig.
The Southern California native fumbled three times against Alabama last weekend, losing two of them. The Wildcats managed just 89 yards through the air and Johnson was sacked four times.
“I think Stephen’s very resilient,” Stoops said Wednesday on his weekly teleconference. “I knew he was when we recruited him. He has great poise. But that doesn’t mean that he can’t be affected because certainly great defenses in hostile environments have a tendency to affect all quarterbacks for the most part.”
That was against the No. 1 team in the country, but a much more manageable task is slated for 4 p.m. Saturday when Kentucky (2-3, 1-2 SEC) hosts Vanderbilt (2-3, 0-2 SEC) at Commonwealth Stadium.
“I think how he responds, how he bounces back this week, will be a big indicator for him as he moves forward,” Stoops said. “I’m anxious to see it. I’m very confident that he’ll bounce back and put that game behind him and put the ball security issues behind him.”
Johnson was forced into the role in Week 3 when then-starter Drew Barker exited the New Mexico State game with a back injury. The offense exploded for 62 points as Johnson threw for three touchdowns without a turnover.
“He’s gotta go out there and play like he can play, very poised and aggressive, because he can’t, you know we’ve got to get back to attacking and playing the type of football offensively that we’re capable of,” Stoops said.