5 numbers Kentucky wants to see from Terry Wilson in 2020
For a season plus, the most important number for Terry Wilson has been 12-3. That’s his record as a starting quarterback at Kentucky. It’s a record that’s unequalled certainly back to Kentucky’s glory days under Bear Bryant in the 1950s … and perhaps not even then. But Benny Snell and Lynn Bowden are gone from Lexington. So are the nonconference opponents that UK has used to pad its schedule. Given Touchdown Terry’s increased role, what are 5 numbers Kentucky needs to see Wilson reach in 2020?
1. 2,000 passing yards
Yes, that feels pretty skimpy as a significant goal, at first glimpse. The last UK quarterback to reach 3,000 passing yards in a season was Mike Hartline in 2010. And given a 12- or 13-game season, that figure would be in play for Terry Wilson. But UK will play 10 games, and ideally an 11th. And an FCS foe, 2 MAC teams and a Louisville squad that Kentucky has beaten badly were traded for a home game with Ole Miss and a trip to Alabama. Wilson ended up with 1,889 passing yards in 2018. In 2 or 3 fewer games, reaching 2,000 yards feels like a must for offensive balance in 2020.
2. 8.0 yards per attempt
Kentucky’s offense has been run-heavy under Wilson, and accordingly, the passing game has been scripted to be heavy on completions and often short on actual north-south yardage gains. Wilson completed 67% of his passes in 2018 (and 64% in his short pre-injury stint in 2019), but averaged only 7.0 yards per attempt in 2018 (and 6.9 in 2019). Granted, the 10.8 yards per pass Joe Burrown managed in 2019 is too much to hope for from Wilson. But the 8.4 from Jarrett Guarantano or the 8.3 from Kyle Trask should be nearly reachable for Touchdown Terry … at least, if Kentucky is willing to take enough risks with the passing game to be competitive in an SEC-only environment.
3. 500 yards rushing
There’s a tenuous balance here. If Wilson runs too much, he subjects himself to increased injury risk, and Kentucky could be in a tough spot again. On the other hand, the 2018 version of Wilson rushed for 547 yards. Again, he’ll be playing fewer games and should look to carry more of the load with his arm. But if Wilson doesn’t match the 136 carries he had in 2018, maybe he could shoot for 500 rushing yards on, say, 100 carries?
4. 2 to 1 touchdown to interception ratio
For a quarterback who threw a ton of safe passes in 2018, Wilson’s touchdown to interception totals of 11 to 8 were far from stunning. Wilson did have 2 scores and no picks in the game and a half he played in 2019, but it won’t be Toledo and Eastern Michigan across the line of scrimmage this fall. Wilson probably won’t throw for 25 touchdowns in 2020. But if he puts us something like 16 touchdowns (and another half-dozen rushing scores) with no more than 8 picks, that would be a good ratio for the Kentucky offense.
5. 6 wins
No, we’re not back to the salad days of UK football, with the Big Blue Nation praying for an Independence Bowl berth. But the 10-game, all-SEC schedule has to be met with a certain amount of trepidation in a place where the last winning SEC season before 2018’s 5-3 campaign was 1977.
If Wilson can get Kentucky to 6-4, first, that would again result in a very decent bowl matchup, assuming that we have bowl games in 2020-21. But secondly, it would make him the first Kentucky quarterback to lead UK to multiple winning SEC seasons since Derrick Ramsey in 1976 and 1977. Granted, Ramsey is also the last quarterback to lead Kentucky to a (shared) SEC title. But we’ll stick with another winning SEC season as the ultimate litmus test for Wilson in 2020.