Maybe Kentucky’s offense has too many options?
Maybe it has gotten too fancy? Maybe there are better packages to fit the personnel?
These are all questions that offensive coordinator Eddie Gran said he will have to answer after the 45-7 drubbing the Cats took at Florida on Saturday.
“We’ll go back to the drawing board,” he said. “This thing’s a lot of weeks left. We’ve got to go back and we’ve got to get better.”
Initially, his plan against the Gators, who held UK to 149 yards of total offense, including just 55 yards through the air, was to get into some bigger sets with multiple tight ends.
“Stuff they had not seen and we went into it and got out of some of the stuff because of what they were doing with it, it wasn’t working,” Gran continued.
“When I got into some other sets, there was just no continuity, nothing. It all starts with me. So we’ll go back to the drawing board.”
The new offensive coordinator, Kentucky’s third in as many seasons, said he had similar difficulties early on while at Cincinnati and once they figured out what personnel best matched what they could do, things went more smoothly.
“I’ve been here before. We started this way at Cincinnati and the personnel wasn’t right and we got into what was right and you have to re-evaluate all the time,” he said. “You’ve got to look at yourself and it will start right here with me. We’ll go and give us the best opportunity to win next week and we’ll handle next week.”
For his part, running back Boom Williams didn’t think it was about Kentucky having too many plays in the playbook. He said it just needs to regroup.
“We’ve just got to keep playing,” the junior said. “I believe in this team a lot and I think we’re eventually going to get it together and turn the season around and make something positive out of this season.”
Quarterback Drew Barker, who completed just two passes to UK players and three to Florida players, said he’s still comfortable in the offense.
“I don’t think the gameplan was overly complicated or anything but, um, like I said, we’re going to do what the coaches tell us but I don’t think the game plan was complicated,” he said.
There clearly are some things that need to get fixed, head coach Mark Stoops said.
“Got behind the chains offensively,” UK’s coach said. “Can’t do that against a quality team. They covered us. They disrupted us, got us behind the chains in a lot of negative-yardage plays. We can’t play that way.”
Johnson makes UK debut
Backup quarterback Stephen Johnson got his first action of the season versus the Gators on Saturday, completing one of his three pass attempts for 45 yards to Jeff Badet.
Getting the junior college transfer into the game was part of the plan, not a direct result of Barker’s three turnovers and inability to get the offense going against the Gators.
Stoops said he’s not sure what the plan will be with Johnson moving forward.
“We’ll see how it goes,” he said of Johnson, who had seven carries for nine yards. “Just knew we were trying to give them a little change of pace. Again, we’d like to run more plays than we’ve been running, so you can’t get a lot of offense in when you’re not running a lot of plays.”
Other news and notes
As promised after last week’s collapse against Southern Miss, Stoops tried to work in more defensive depth, including extended playing time for defensive linemen Tymere Dubose, Naquez Pringle and T.J. Carter.
Defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot said he thinks that will help down the line.
“We played 90-something snaps and I think 83 this week, so we’ve got to get some rotation in there, get more guys in there,” he said.
▪ George Asafo-Adjei, who is listed as the backup at both right guard and right tackle, did not make the trip to Lexington after injuring his ankle against Southern Miss last week.
Things got worse for the Cats’ offensive line depth early in the second quarter when starting left tackle Cole Mosier went out with an ankle injury. The junior had a boot on it after the half. After the game, Stoops said he didn’t know the extent of the injury.
In his first game action, true freshman Landon Young played there the rest of the way.
▪ Kentucky wide receiver Alexander Montgomery made the trip to Florida. He missed much of last season coming back from his second knee surgery. … Wideout Dorian Baker returned to the field after sitting out the opener with a hamstring injury.