Will Levis’ Toughness Pays Dividends in Win Over Mizzou
While he didn’t fill up the box score with impressive numbers on Saturday afternoon at Missouri, Will Levis provided one of those gusty performances Big Blue Nation have come to know and love over the past two seasons.
Sure, 160 yards and 12 completions aren’t amazing numbers, but the team captain hurled three passing touchdowns and carried the Wildcats to a crucial 21-17 victory at Faurot Field.
What’s even more impressive is the fact that the QB is performing as well as he is while not being 100 percent healthy:
“The guy’s banged up man, i’m just proud of him, it’s not easy. He’s probably got more going on than people realize,” offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello said. “He’s tough as shit. It’s the reality of it, he’s tough. He is fighting through some serious stuff and I am proud of him, I appreciate him and I value that.”
Injury issues originally popped up for Levis in Kentucky’s first loss of the season on Oct. 1 against Ole Miss. It would be a turf toe issue that eventually kept him out of the following game against South Carolina.
Then one week later against Mississippi State, Levis would head to the locker room after taking a big hit. X-Ray’s luckily came back negative on what was initially suspected to be a shoulder injury. He would return to the game and push the Cats across the finish line, something that’s become second nature to him.
While head coach Mark Stoops didn’t elude to any specific injuries to his QB in the lead-up to the trip to Columbia, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that Levis has been put through the wringer this season.
Levis spoke to the media following Saturday’s win with a boot on his left foot, noting that he hasn’t been able to fully practice with the team while dealing with his nagging bumps and bruises.
“I’m practicing just as I was practicing before, just kind of a little dialed back. I’m still making all the reads, still getting all the reps,” he said.
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After taking six more against Mizzou, Levis has now been sacked 30 times this season. Slowly but surely, those repeated hits start to take a toll.
“I’d say like 75 percent. We’ll see how I feel tomorrow,” Levis said when asked how close he was to being fully healthy. “I think it’s just with my mobility mostly. That’s the one thing I feel like has been affected. You have to —even if you’re hurt— have the same mindset that you’re gonna play the same way as if you’re not hurt. It’s hard to block that out and act that way.”
Levis has fit right into that hard-nosed mentality that has become synonymous with Stoops-coached teams. It’s safe to say that nobody embodies that play-style on and off the field more than the superstar QB.
Stoops echoed that mindset following the win:
“It gets hard. When you play this schedule with these teams, the grind that our players have, they want the results, we all do,” Stoops said. “You got to continue to work…everybody wants to win in that locker room, it’s before the game or during the game, what are you willing to do? Are you really willing to sacrifice all throughout the week? For them, to get rewarded with a victory, it can help a lot.”
It’s unclear what Levis’ status will be heading into Vanderbilt game-week. One thing is for sure, however: He’ll do every thing he can to make sure he’s under center next Saturday.
For more on the win over Mizzou, click here.
Wildcats Today will have more post-game coverage of the UK victory.
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.