Kentucky football balancing being aggressive versus drawing penalties
Few things irritate Eddie Gran more than a whistle blowing and the chains moving backward during a game.
After a ho-hum performance by his offense at Texas A&M two weeks ago, there could be a laundry list of things he sees that Kentucky needs to fix, but the coordinator fixates on one.
“Well, No. 1, penalties,” he said Tuesday when asked what his group needs to adjust. “I’m going to start right there. Just penalties.
“And again, offense is about executing. If they practice and play like they did today, we executed today. It was really good. It’s going to be fun to watch the film tomorrow and show them what they’re capable of.”
Only two teams in the Southeastern Conference are more penalty-prone than UK (7.7 flags per game) at the midway point of the season: Ole Miss is averaging 8.6 per game and Florida is averaging eight.
The Cats’ penalty yards per game are second-most in the league at 71.7 behind only the Rebels’ 81.6 yards.
In its last two games versus the Aggies and at home against South Carolina, Kentucky has been flagged for 19 penalties for 167 yards.
“That can’t happen,” UK Coach Mark Stoops said this week as the Cats prepare for Vanderbilt, which averages just 40.9 penalty yards per game, best in the conference.
“If you want to win and win consistently you have to address that,” Stoops added. “And part of it, the aggressive fouls, are sometimes going to happen. But the pre-snap penalties and things of that nature we can’t have. Just have to continue to work on it and harp on it.”
Some of the best teams that Stoops has coached have been penalized regularly because of their aggressive nature, the coach said.
“We’ve talked about still playing with that edge and that attitude and that we need to play with, but we need to be smart and we can’t be selfish,” Stoops said.
The mental errors leading to penalties have to go down in a hurry, though.
“It’s not like we’re an undisciplined team,” he said. “We’re an aggressive team and we’re fighting for every yard and every play, but we have to have a good mentality about us and play very unselfish.”