Everything Stephen Johnson said on The Paul Finebaum Show

Justin Rowland, Publisher
Cats Illustrated

Last week it was Mark Stoops who appeared on The Paul Finebaum Show in advance of UK-South Carolina.

On Monday, UK starting quarterback Stephen Johnson appeared on the show representing the program.

Here's a transcript of everything that was said.



Paul Finebaum: Stephen, thank you so much for joining us. How is everything going after a couple of really good weeks, especially a win Saturday night that surprised a lot of people?

Stephen Johnson: It's going really well. We're just trying to keep this momentum going, going into this fourth game now. We've got Florida coming to us so we're just really trying to keep the foot on the gas and keep this whole thing going.

Finebaum: It's so different, it seems, than last year when the season got off to such a bad start and Kentucky was really holding on for dear life. Talk about the difference between fighting from behind and knowing every game was do or die, whereas now there is serious momentum going for the Cats.

Johnson: Yeah, I mean it's totally different. When you're fighting from behind you really don't have a whole lot of confidence going into your next game. But when you're 3-0 now, going into your fourth game, you've got a little bit more confidence under your belt. Guys really feel you can go out and do whatever you want offensively, defensively, on special teams. So we're just really trying to keep building on that.

Finebaum: I'll try to ask this question without having you talk too much about yourself but what has been the biggest change? I mean, you're playing great, you've got Benny Snell, you've got a lot of really great components on this offense.

Johnson: Just consistency and turnovers. That's one of the main things we've stressed over the offseason and over summer and camp, was just the turnover margin that we had. Right now I think we're +4 or something like that. That's what we really keep stressing, Coach (Eddie) Gran and Coach (Mark) Stoops keep stressing to us. So if we keep that going it'll be hard for us to lose in the first place.

Finebaum: Of course we all know your coach is a defensive wizard. What do you see on the other side of the ball every day in practice, because we saw a lot of that Saturday night.

Johnson: I mean, there's guys flying around. I mean, they're really tuned in and locked in on the schemes that we've got prepared for each opponent. So those guys are really hard to practice against, especially on our Wednesday practice when we go two minute, but I mean it's really cool to go against those guys. They prepare us even more for our games.

Finebaum: Let's go back for a second, then we'll look ahead. Saturday night everything was going South Carolina's way after a couple of really big wins. Now, unfortunately, nobody wants to see a great player like Deebo get hurt, how big of an impact did that have, do you think on the other side of the ball?

Johnson: I think it had a pretty big impact. I'm pretty sure he came back in the game afterwards, which really showed his character and his will to keep on going. But you can kinda tell they were starting to go downhill a little bit. We just tried to capitalize on that and ended up winning that game.

Finebaum: Well, we have been talking about this game for many, many months. It's hard to get much bigger than the Florida Gators coming to town. I don't need to tell you how long it's been. You weren't even alive the last time Kentucky (beat Florida). How big is this game?

Johnson: It's huge. I mean, we've just been going one game at a time and now we're finally (at) Week 4 against Florida. We can't wait for it. Guys are hyped up. Everybody was ready to go as soon as we came in today. We're really looking forward to this Saturday.

Finebaum: Now Stephen I realize I'm trying to think at the time, you were probably on the field or getting ready for the start of the game so I doubt you saw the end of the Tennessee-Florida game live, but I'm sure you've seen it since.

Johnson: Oh yeah, we all got to see the highlight of the game. I watched how that unfolded right at the very end with the long throw. It's crazy to see something like that happen. We're just really now preparing for them to come in here.

Finebaum: Stephen in that situation I'm just curious as a quarterback, have you been in that spot where you're really just throwing it up? I mean there's been some argument that was a play, but man that ball traveled a long way.

Johnson: Oh yeah, he threw the heck out of the ball. But I mean, you definitely prepare for those situations. Back in high school I had a few Hail Mary throws myself. But, I mean, that type of situation you see really kind of nobody back there. You're just licking your chops and trying to throw it as high as you can in the end zone.

Finebaum: Final question on that, I realize we're showing it right now, I mean, when you watch that play, are you wondering what's going on on the defensive side of the ball for Tennessee? I realize it's not your game, but as a quarterback I'm sure you're interested.

Johnson: I really didn't know the whole situation of it. But from what I heard, I don't know if it's true, maybe the other side of the ball thought they were playing to go into overtime or not, but I mean, you've still got to play to win the game. So that's what Florida did. They ended up throwing the ball and getting by everybody...in the secondary.

Finebaum: Let me throw one or two more at you then we'll let you get back to work. Here's a prime time game. It's on the network here. The place will be jam packed and this is what you live for. Of course, you've been in some big games. I don't want to act like you haven't. I mean, you beat Louisville and Lamar Jackson this year. Where would this one rank at least going into the game?

Johnson: It'll be pretty big. Last year I didn't get to start, I got to play a little bit of the second half of the game last year so I got to see a little bit of the environment especially down there in Florida, so this is a very, very big game for us. And like I said we're just looking forward to it and can't wait 'til Saturday.

Finebaum: Finally, I doubt it's hard to stay focused but as we get closer to the game I'm sure everybody all week is going to be talking to you about it, bugging you about it, the media demands are going to be high. How do you just stay focused, how do you just cut out, eliminate all the noise?

Johnson: I mean, just the same thing we do every week. We just gotta lock into what we're doing. Try to keep all the media, all the social media really out of it. Really just stay tuned into our game plan and what we're doing and not focus on anybody else and what they're saying.

Finebaum: Stephen, always a pleasure. Best wishes, we'll all be watching Saturday night. Hope you have a great game.


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