UK Football

Blue Review: Instant analysis from Kentucky’s football win over EKU

Gran explains UK's QB shuffle: Good to get his feet wet

UK offensive coordinator Eddie Gran talks about the decision to substitute Drew Barker in for Stephen Johnson during the first half of UK's win over Eastern Kentucky.
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UK offensive coordinator Eddie Gran talks about the decision to substitute Drew Barker in for Stephen Johnson during the first half of UK's win over Eastern Kentucky.

Instant analysis from Kentucky’s 27-16 win over Eastern Kentucky:

How the game was won

Stephen Johnson threw for a touchdown and ran for a TD to rally Kentucky from 13-3 down and avert an upset bid by intrastate FCS foe Eastern Kentucky.

Game balls

1. Stephen Johnson. As he did so often last year, the senior quarterback (15-of-22 passing for 224 yards; six rushes for 48 yards; no turnovers) steadied UK when it was wobbling. It should be apparent that Johnson at QB gives Kentucky its best chance to win in 2017.

2. Benny Snell. It was nice to see the Snell of 2016 make an appearance Saturday (19 carries, 103 yards) when the Cats really needed him.

3. Blake Bone. The Kentucky senior wideout (three catches, 93 yards) had the best game of his college career.

4. Darius West. With 11 tackles, UK’s oft-injured junior safety is showing what he can do when healthy.

5. Ryan Markush and Neiko Creamer. EKU’s Markush (10 catches, 98 yards) and Creamer (eight catches, 82 yards) were the best wide receivers in the game.

6. Mark Elder. After a difficult first year (3-8) in 2016, the EKU head man appears to have the Colonels program moving in the right direction after two competitive efforts (albeit losses) against FBS foes UK and Western Kentucky.

Running gassers

1. Kentucky pass defense. After allowing Southern Mississippi to throw for 309 yards in week one, UK saw Eastern Kentucky control a good bit of the game behind a short-passing attack (31-of-42 passes for 256 yards).

2. Kentucky kickoff coverage. It was less than stellar.

Key numbers

Three of four. After losing six straight games to in-state competition from Sept. 17, 2011, through Nov. 29, 2014, UK has now won three of its last four vs. other teams from Kentucky.

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Kentucky quarterback Stephen Johnson steadied the Wildcats when they were trailing Eastern Kentucky on Saturday. Alex Slitz aslitz@herald-leader.com

Passion for fashion

For its 2017 home opener, Kentucky wore blue helmets, blue jerseys with white numbers and letters and white pants.

Up next

Kentucky (2-0) travels to South Carolina to face the Gamecocks Sept. 16 at 7:30 p.m. in a game televised on the SEC Network. South Carolina (1-0) faced Missouri on Saturday night in a game that kicked off at 7 p.m.

Know your foe

1. Kentucky has beaten South Carolina three years in a row. The last time UK beat an SEC team other than Vanderbilt in four consecutive seasons was Florida from 1948-51.

2. In 2016, South Carolina’s season turned around when Gamecocks Coach Will Muschamp inserted true freshman quarterback Jake Bentley into the lineup. With Bentley at QB, South Carolina finished last season 4-3 and beat ACC foe North Carolina State in the 2017 season opener with Bentley throwing for three touchdowns. Bentley did not play in South Carolina’s 17-10 loss to UK in Lexington last year.

3. Will Muschamp began his coaching career at Eastern Kentucky in 1999 as an assistant coaching the secondary on the staff of iconic Colonels head man Roy Kidd. South Carolina co-offensive coordinator Kurt Roper coached the quarterbacks at Kentucky in 2005.

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