Kentucky Football: Terry Wilson deserves more credit

LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY - OCTOBER 03: Terry Wilson #3 of the Kentucky Wildcats throws the ball against the Ole Miss Rebels at Commonwealth Stadium on October 03, 2020 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY - OCTOBER 03: Terry Wilson #3 of the Kentucky Wildcats throws the ball against the Ole Miss Rebels at Commonwealth Stadium on October 03, 2020 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

Kentucky football quarterback Terry Wilson receives more blame than he deserves. He’s played turnover-free, winning football for most of the year.

There’s an endless supply of armchair quarterbacks and wannabe head coaches that think they know how to play/coach the game better. They make ridiculous calls for jobs that should never happen. This year, Kentucky football quarterback Terry Wilson seems to take a good brunt of those calls, and honestly, it makes no sense.

The redshirt senior started off slowly in a 29-13, season-opening loss at No. 8 Auburn, in his first start back from a torn patella tendon that forced him to miss most of the 2019 season.

However, Wilson has rebounded well, leading the offense to a 41-point, 559-total yard outing in a week-two loss against Ole Miss and helping UK to two straight wins, including a 34-7 win at No. 18 Tennessee on Saturday.

In both wins combined, the offense mustered just 451 yards. It was ugly on paper and that usually falls on the quarterback, but the offense avoided turnovers for the most part, with just two, while the defense forced 10. The offense also continues to slowly see more promising glimpses in the passing game.

This year, he’s not set the world on fire in the passing game. There’s no arguing that, but before keyboard warriors get too excited, he’s also trying to restore an offense that ran the ball 70-percent of the time last season and had its top receiver, Lynn Bowden Jr., move to quarterback when Wilson was lost for the season.

Bowden moved onto the NFL, and outside of active receiving leader Josh Ali (58 career catches for 619 yards and four touchdowns), the next top two pass catchers were now-graduated senior Ahmed Wagner and running back Asim Rose. Wilson came back under center with little to almost no receivers with experience.

Also, the offense had to alter its approach in a shortened offseason due to COVID-19. UK was a run-heavy punisher in the ground game in 2019, featuring four players with over 500 rushing yards, and it’s far from balanced even when Wilson is under center.

Still, Kentucky football has had a passing game to balance things out somewhat more with Wilson, than it ever did with, and to no-fault-of-his-own, Bowden. Developing chemistry with receivers takes time and all the above contributing factors don’t make that any easier on the quarterback.

Wilson stayed steadfast. At best, he’s been an efficient, dual-threat quarterback that keeps defenses honest. He’s also growing stronger connections with his wide outs, as evidenced by Allen Dailey Jr.’s three catches for 25 yards and one touchdown in the victory against Tennessee.

At worst, he avoids turnovers, adds another runner to a devastating, multi-headed rushing attack and manages the game. He understands that Kentucky football’s ballhawking defense and strong run game can do more than enough to win games, so he doesn’t need to do too much.

Wilson has followed that recipe through four games, putting up 564 yards through the air, a 64.4 completion percentage, three touchdowns and just one interception, while rushing for the second-most yards on the team, with 253 (sacks included) and three touchdowns.

Wilson gives the team the best chance to win. He’s a veteran that understands what Kentucky is trying to get done. Also, the more he’s settled in this year, he’s thrown the ball in rhythm, leading receivers well and allowing them to pick up the always-important YAC (yards after catch).

Despite leading UK to its first 10-win season since 1977 in 2018, boasting a career record of 14-5 (courtesy of the Lexington Herald-Leader) that includes numerous marquee wins for the program and putting his team in position to win almost each time out, he remains on the hot seat.

Facing Georgia’s highly-ranked defense next week likely won’t help a struggling passing game, but it affords Wilson another opportunity to grow with his receivers. He’s the guy under center that’s led Kentucky to some unbelievable high points, and he deserves the chance to continue leading the program the rest of his fifth and final season.

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