They might as well be connected at the headset while finishing each other’s sentences.
That’s how close, how comfortable new Kentucky offensive coaches Eddie Gran and Darin Hinshaw seemed Monday with each other and their new task of rebuilding the Cats’ offense.
The architects of a Cincinnati offense that was among the most prolific in the country are hoping to rebuild a UK offense that struggled to meet expectations this season.
“As we were trying to put this thing together, I thought it was extremely important to get both of those guys,” UK head coach Mark Stoops said. “We were able to do that.
“They’ve had great numbers, but more importantly I know the leadership qualities they have. I know what type of people they are. They are unbelievable recruiters. I think it’s very important that they had SEC experience.”
Together, Gran, a running backs coach by trade who has 15-plus years of coaching experience in the Southeastern Conference, and Hinshaw, a quarterbacks coach, have built what sounds like the ultimate hybrid.
They call it a “multiple pro-style offense” that adapts to specific personnel that they plan to use at roughly “800 miles an hour.”
“We took an NFL-style offense and basically got it in a position where we can go multiple and still be able to play extremely fast,” Hinshaw explained of the system, which he worked on at Tennessee under Jim Chaney and then adapted with Gran. “We can do all the pro-style passing game and run game and still be able to do it in a fast-paced environment.”
The passing specialist (Hinshaw) and the run-game specialist (Gran) are excited to bring their brand of offense to Kentucky.
“If you’re running the ball well you run the ball. It’s not rocket science,” Gran said. “If you’re passing the ball well, pass. Don’t turn the darn thing over and freakin’ score points. It’s that simple. We want to be balanced. We want to be physical. We want to run the darn ball.
The ultimate goal is to run it half the time and pass it half the time, Gran said. It’s all personnel dependent and based on what the defense gives.
Hinshaw recalled Cincinnati’s game against Houston this season where the Bearcats ended up throwing for more than 500 yards because the run was taken away.
Overall this season, Cincinnati ran the ball 48 percent of the time while still passing for more yards this season (4,477) than UK’s entire offense totaled (4,464).
They’re excited to see how they can adapt their plan to fit what Hinshaw called the “new toys” they’re getting in a UK offense that returns nearly all of its play makers from last season.
“We got to see all those kids and we’re looking forward to continuing to recruit those guys as we get them in here,” Hinshaw said. “We’ll be able to put the offense together from that standpoint.”
When they get the UK players — on their third offensive coordinator in as many seasons — to buy in, Hinshaw and Gran believe they can build a productive, winning offense at Kentucky.
“We’ve done it and we won at Cincinnati at a place that statistically was not very good on offense either,” Hinshaw said of the Bearcats’ offense, which averaged 559.2 yards a game and 36.1 points a game last season. “They hadn’t scored a tremendous amount of points.
“Their passing yardage I believe was 90th in the country. We immediately changed that and slowly made it go up and up and up in the passing and in the running, then turned around total offense.”
It starts with the marriage of the pass and the run and the two men seemingly joined at the headset.
“Game day is unbelievable with him in the box and me on the field,” Gran said. “The way we communicate, it’s just been a really good relationship. It was important that he come here and be a part of this.”
Hinshaw called the working relationship “unbelievable” between the two of them. “He’s on the field, I’m in the box. We’ve got our roles. Eddie calls it; I give him all the information. We work it together.”
And together they think they can make that same magic at Kentucky.
“We feel the personnel is here to do that with,” Hinshaw said. “Like coach Gran just said, we have to get the players to buy in and understand what their roles are, make sure there’s no egos in the room. This is all about Kentucky football.”