UK Football

Wildcat offense under Gran, Hinshaw is going to get intense

cbertram@herald-leader.com

Perhaps a regular thing that Darin Hinshaw says to his quarterbacks is something that the new coach and his cohort should say to the Kentucky offense.

“I tell them on the field, ‘I apologize. Guys, I apologize right now, OK? I’m going to get intense,’” Hinshaw said with a half-laugh in an interview with a small group of media Thursday.

Both Hinshaw and Eddie Gran, the Cats’ new assistant head coach of the offense, talked a lot about intensity and discipline and trying to fix what ails the Kentucky offense.

Each offered plenty of examples from their three years coaching together at Cincinnati of how they had to encourage each other to dial back the fervor.

“Coach Gran is, he is intense; I’ll just tell you that right now,” Hinshaw said of his boss.

In practice, if Gran sees a receiver catch a ball and then jog after the catch, he gets a little touchy.

“He is going to be screaming at you at the top of his lungs from across the field,” Hinshaw said.

And it becomes a style that permeates through the offensive coaching staff. They hope the discipline and fundamentally sound play eventually will equal wins on the field.

“It doesn’t happen overnight,” continued Hinshaw, the Cats’ new co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. “There’s some things that are going to have to change here and we’re going to get that done — and we’ve already started. We’re working on it right now.”

All of the Kentucky coaches go on the road for the next two weeks recruiting. But they’ve already been in the weight room to visit with players, who are on their third offensive boss in as many seasons.

Things are changing.

I want to see what they do when they get tired and their coach is in their rear end, to see how they look at you, see what their body language is.

Eddie Gran, assistant head coach of the offense

“I tell kids: To be coached is to be loved, so get ready to be loved a lot,” Hinshaw said.

So maybe it’s a bad cop/good cop situation with one screaming coach and one who hugs players and sings a lovely harmony of Kumbaya?

Well, not exactly.

“I’m going to be the bad guy all the time,” Gran said with a laugh, adding that it’s really just tough love. “Those kids are going to know when they do something right I’ll be the first one over there. I’m going to be hugging them, I’m going to be loving on them.”

Sometimes Gran has to get Hinshaw to dial it back a bit during practice, too.

“Darin doesn’t baby quarterbacks, now,” Gran said. “Coach Hinshaw gets after their rear end.”

When Gran thinks it’s a little much, he is in Hinshaw’s ear encouraging him to find one or two positive things to throw out there.

That goes both ways.

For Kentucky to become the high-powered offense that the coaches believe it can be, there needs to be accountability, which sometimes means words players don’t want to hear. Loudly.

“To be a great offense you have to be able to execute and you’ve got to be disciplined,” Gran said. “If you’re not that then they’re going to have my foot up their rear end and I’m going to be on them.”

The offensive head coach has no use for entitled players or parents. He has no use for the drama.

“There’s guys — the problem is when you hand those guys third, fourth, fifth, sixth chances,” he said. “I understand second, third maybe, depending on the crime and what it is, but you got to grow up.”

Gran demands “eliminating the clutter” from players’ lives.

“If football is important to them then they’ve got to be able to put that iPad down, the iPhones and all the stuff they have,” he said. “Put it away for a while, and let’s get locked into what is important and focus on what we’ve got to do to get better.”

Each player will get his second chance to make a first impression with his new coaching staff. “The eye in the sky doesn’t lie,” Gran said. “If you produce, you’ll play.”

The coaches have watched video clips of plays from the past couple of seasons. Gran has seen every single run by Boom Williams and Jojo Kemp.

Their evaluation will start long before the first snap of spring practice. When winter workouts begin in February, the coaches said they will learn a lot about the players they are coaching.

“I want to see what they do when they get tired and their coach is in their rear end, to see how they look at you, see what their body language is,” Gran said. “That’s what I’m looking for.”

After winter workouts and then spring practice, the players will be encouraged to make football an even bigger part of their daily lives, to take it seriously.

To make getting better a full-time job.

“We have a plan to go all the way through — the spring, all the way through the summer, and we’ll go all the way until we go to training camp,” Hinshaw said of his plan for his quarterbacks. “There’s no magic plays — I’m sorry there isn’t. It’s about the fundamentals of doing the right things every day, all the time, and demanding it upon yourself. And that’s how you get better.”

Jennifer Smith: 859-231-3241, @jenheraldleader

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