Jen Smith on UK Football

Q&A: Gran details simplification, discusses whether confidence is shaken


On what he learned from opening problems with offense at Cincinnati: “Well, I think it’s twofold, I think it’s a new system as you’re going in and as you grow and you develop and you keep growing and we’ve got to keep growing and we’ve got to grow fast. And part of that this week is (Stoops) is talking about executing, simplifying it, playing fast and that’s what we’re doing. I say playing fast meaning just get lined up; when you have your job, do it and do it fast, OK? It’s not necessarily going and trying to run 100 plays. That’s not going to do anything if you can only have 25 that are detailed. If we have 50, 50 need to be detailed. If we have 75, then 75 need to be detailed. And that’s what we’re doing. Yesterday was a great practice in terms of fundamentals and technique and I though they came out and responded and today was. We got to introduce first down and base stuff to them and they handled it very well.”

On if offense has to regain its confidence at all after the last two weeks: “No. They had confidence in the first week and they got hit in the chin. We got hit right in the mouth. What are we going to do? That’s the bottom line.”

On Stephen Johnson: “He did some good things, you know. The first quarterback run was really good by him. The second one, not so good. You’ve got to protect the football. And at the end of the day, that’s what we’ve got to do, that’s what we talk to all of our quarterbacks about is we can’t have any more turnovers. At the end of the day, we’ve got to protect the ball. That’s our baby. It’s inexcusable. But that’s everybody involved. It’s our offensive line protecting. It’s our running backs protecting. It’s the receivers getting off the line of scrimmage. It’s everybody. Everybody’s got their responsibility and that’s what we talked about. They saw it on film and that’s what they’re working on right now and I thought today there was more of an urgency. And that’s what we have to have is an urgency.”

On if there was some hesitancy on Saturday and if that is where the ‘playing fast’ point comes from: “I think that’s part of it, maybe you’ve got too much in. Maybe you’ve got some stuff we didn’t have, maybe a motion movement, different personnels. We were going in and out. So if they’re not knowing what to do -- then that comes on me; that’s what I said after the game -- and that’s what we re-evaluated this week and that’s what we did on Sunday and Monday night and that’s what we’re going to do tonight to see what we’re doing right now, if that’s what is going to be successful on Saturday. If we have to cut, we’ll cut, if we don’t, then we’ll be good.”

On what he means by cutting: “That’ll depend on what we see at practice. If we’re out there and we just ran 29 plays in team right there and we weren’t very detailed on 10 of them, then I’m going to cut those 10 and move onto the next. If we have 19 plays that are good, then we’ll play those 19 plays.”

On how many plays they had in for the first game: “I don’t even know. I don’t even know. In terms of plays, in terms of the first game we played? (Yes) Uhhh, I would say we probably had 75 that are on the game plan, but what you’ve got to understand is 75 of those, you’ve got some that carry over into third down. You’ve got some that carry over into the red zone, based on formation, they just change. So you probably cut that in half and you’ve got 35 to 40. And so if we need to make that somewhere around 30, we'll make it 30 for the whole game.”

On how Landon Young performed:A true freshman coming in and being in that situation, I thought he did a fine job. I really did. I thought he competed. He didn't look like he had deer in the headlights. He embraced it and he made some mistakes, but that's what's gonna happen. But he's gonna be better for us game nine, 10, 11 and 12 because of it. It's a long year, so it's gonna help us without depth. We had to find another position there anyway as we keep moving those guys around.”

On what Boom Williams was doing well at Florida: ”He was hitting it. You can't be – especially in the SEC, especially against a defense like that – you got to go north and south. It's a one-cut league and we really stressed that, and you saw some of them that were four yards, six yards and then we popped it. I'll go back to where we had some success on that one drive and then we took a shot. I was talking to Mark and it wasn't very smart on my part. I wish I'd have taken that back. If it's a touchdown everybody's happy and excited, but it makes sense. I got to help our guys and that's what we got to do. We got to make sure we're calling the right things to get them to be successful.”

On C.J. Conrad and Greg Hart not getting on track and if there's a reason behind it:I think it's gonna happen every week in terms of personnel, how we match up with the other team and then how we want to spread 'em out or if we want to have tight packages. As we go I think you'll see them catch the ball a little bit more. I really do. I don't think there's any question.”

On if he goes into practices energized or with a heavy hand:Energized, up and just coaching 'em like we do. Coach 'em hard. You can't let up, and it's our job as an offensive staff – as it came down from Coach Stoops – offensively as a staff, we've got to be more detailed. If their not getting it done then it's on me, then it's on them. And at the end of the day, that's the bottom line and so our kids have responded to it. We had a great individual yesterday of just getting back to putting your foot in the ground on the boards and offensive line coming up with a square back, not being sideways. Running backs being better pass protectors – being high, we were getting knocked back a little bit and those are the things that can't happen so those are the things we worked on. Our receivers, on a release stacking a DB. All the little things that are just basic but sometimes you don't have a chance to go once you get out of training camp, but we used that opportunity to get it done.”

On how he gets Drew Barker to play with more consistency:Consistent is the key to this game. I talked about that, I think, all training camp. We can't be up and down and we got to be able to sustain drives. We gotta be better on third down. That's the bottom line. We've gotta find better throws for him, we got to get open, we got to protect, and again, it goes back to the execution of the offense and me putting him in a better situation.”

On being successful on third down at Cincinnati last year and what the key was:Everything that I've been talking about. I don't want to sound like a broken record, but on third down, the tighter throws. Red zone, the tighter throws. Some people are in man-to-man and there's gonna be a guy all over you. You got to throw and catch. You got to put it on his outside shoulder if the guy's on his inside. If it's vice versa, you got to put it on the (inside) and then you've got to make the catch. That's when you're good on third down. Then you’ve got to be able to run the ball on third-and-three sometimes, third-and-five, and keep people off balance. We’ll continue to work on third down, because we’ve got to keep our defense off the field and sustain drives. That’s the key to the success for this weekend.”

On what football IQ means to him: “Football IQ. Don’t let anything faze you. You’ve got a job to do. Don’t make stuff up. Don’t make it up. You can’t make crap up. That’s rule No. 4 in our room. If you have to get 10 yards, you go 10. If something doesn’t look right, don’t freak out. Just do your job. That’s it. It’s not hard. It’s not hard. Do your job.”

On how important this week is for getting more guys the ball: “Whoever we pick to go, they’ve got to do their job. If we get other guys involved then we can go. I like right now where our running backs are in terms of their attitude and getting some of those guys in there, keeping those guys fresh. It’s a long season, and we’re trying to build on that and get Sihiem (King) in there, try to get Benny (Snell) and Mikel (Horton), maybe get those guys some reps too. I’m going to try. When you only have 50 plays, we’re not driving the darn ball, it’s not good. That’s what we’ve got to do.”

On if the ‘wildcat’ formation was always part of the Florida game plan and what he likes about that formation: “Yes, it was. It always has, it always will be. We had it at Cincinnati. Just gives you an opportunity to spread people out, and you can do a lot of things with it whether it be the fly sweep, whether it be throw the ball, whether it be sprint out, whether it be anything. You’ve got a really good package in there. And we haven’t really had a chance to really do anything with it. You know? That’s what I want to see. I want to see us go down and have a 12-play drive and finish, keep our defense – let them drink some dang Gatorade. That’s what we need to do. You do that though offensively – I said at the beginning, you’ve got to execute all the time. You can’t just be three plays in a row. I really liked where they were today.”

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader