Kentucky football: Stephen Johnson and C.J. Conrad connect at last

HATTIESBURG, Miss. — One of Kentucky’s most perplexing offensive problems from a season ago already might be solved.

Quarterback Stephen Johnson and tight end C.J. Conrad finally connected.

“I knew that was what you guys were gonna ask first question,” Conrad told reporters after Kentucky’s win against Southern Miss on Saturday. “We even joked about it on the sidelines. But it was great to connect and hopefully we can keep that going.”

It’s not like Johnson hadn’t ever completed a pass to Conrad, but it was far from a sure thing last season. Johnson admittedly had a problem overthrowing his tight end, which is saying something given Conrad’s 6-foot-5 and 245-pound frame.

But Johnson and Conrad were in sync by the second drive on Saturday. Johnson hit Conrad on a 10-yard pass straight up the seam and Conrad ran free for 50 yards before he was tackled on the Southern Miss 4-yard line.

“Apparently I was running a lot faster,” Conrad said of getting tripped up just before the end zone. “I need to have more confidence in myself in that breakaway. But I got to the 10 (yard line) and I thought he was a lot closer than what he was, so I kinda went to protect the football to make sure I wasn’t gonna get hacked down. But it slowed me down in the process.”

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All in all it was a 59-yard hookup, and there was more to come. Conrad found the end zone in the second quarter on a 23-yard pass from Johnson that mirrored the previous big play. Conrad finished with 97 yards on three receptions to lead Kentucky’s pass catching corps.

“I think with our run game, it sets up that pop pass to him,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said after the game. “That’s always a dangerous threat. Stephen really converted those nice. You remember last year we were a little off target on a few of those early, and it set up with our run game. So we’ve got to continue to work that and take our shots, but yeah C.J. had some nice catches.”

Johnson gave a slight smile, probably of relief, when asked about the connection.

“If you see C.J. running down the field wide open, you’ve gotta be able to get him the ball,” Johnson said.

Watch: Kentucky TE C.J. Conrad on his big game

The post Kentucky football: Stephen Johnson and C.J. Conrad connect at last appeared first on SEC Country.

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