Jen Smith on UK Football

Q&A: Eddie Gran on quarterback reps, his relationship with Muschamp, facing South Carolina’s defense

EDDIE GRAN

“Doing good. Great Tuesday. Really wanted to come out and same thing as last week. The recipe is simple: Come out with great fundamentals, and we did that yesterday, we got after them, getting on the boards just coming off the ball and continuing trying to be physical. Today was I thought technique wise we were OK. We’ve got to be better tomorrow. Defense, we got a little bit going against the defense and I thought they got after our rear end. We’ve got to be able to punch back. I don’t know if we did that great today, but I think they will tomorrow. Their effort and their attention to what we’re trying to do and the detail was really good.”

On how Drew Barker looked: “How did Drew look? Well, that’s still ongoing. Don’t know where he’s at right now. Stephen is be the guy and they’re still getting evaluated and still getting in stuff with Drew. That’s all we know right now. Right now, Stephen’s the guy.”

On if Barker practiced today: “Drew did not practice today. That’s it. That’s all we know right now.”

On backup reps at QB: “Right now, Gunnar (Hoak) is going right now and getting the backup work. Luke (Wright) is ready to go, has done a great job, mentally especially. It’s really close between the two of them and so both of them got to be ready just like Landon Young was ready, just like Benny Snell was ready. Those two have to be ready to come in and play.”

On if he’d be comfortable burning Hoak’s redshirt in game situation: “I think sometimes it can happen in a game and sometimes when it happens right there immediately, you have to make those decisions, you have to already have talked about them. There’s a certain point where you say no and there’s a certain point where you say yes.”

On what he saw from offensive line shuffling on film: “You know what, we did a better job on movement as Coach (Stoops) talked about that on Monday that we had a lot of blitzes and for us to be successful, you’ve got to pick up that because there’s gonna be run stoppers. Everybody in the country does that on early downs and so we have to be able to pick up the movement to stay out of second and long. I thought they did a good job. We practice it all the time. We did it all summer because that was a point of emphasis last year because it wasn’t great and so Stoops wanted that to get done, coach Schlarman and I thought those guys are getting better there at that position with the movement stuff. And then with developing now with more people, being able to rotate some guys now, again, like I said last week, when you get to eight, nine, 10, 11 and 12 game, I think that will help us through the long stretch.”

On if he saw a benefits from simplifying offense and if they add more this week:You add some new stuff. Today's Tuesday. You have some stuff for what they do. But yeah. I think we kept it simple and they executed it. Again, it wasn't anything about playcalling. It was all about our kids executing the offense, and they did. I thought they really did a nice job and was really excited for them, because then they see. And you know what? We're far from perfect. The first thing I said to them on Monday was if you think you've arrived we're in bad trouble. You'll get humbled in a heartbeat, and it'll be ugly. So that's my message. Is it commitment or routine? Coach (Stoops) talked about it. It's commitment and what is your standard?”

On if he has fear of Stephen Johnson running the ball and possibly getting hurt:No. I mean, we gotta go. We gotta go win this one, you know what I mean? We have to go win this one. We will take it week by week, and we gotta go.”

On if quarterback run is a bigger part of the game plan with Johnson in:No. Our whole offense is based on that. Our whole offense is based on that, even with Drew in there. Absolutely. Absolutely. Yep.”

On if C.J. Conrad built confidence after Saturday:Yes. I believe he did, and it was good. It was good to get him going. The questions every week, 'When are you gonna get him involved?' And I'm with you. We needed to get him involved. And you know what, there was some of the same plays where defensively they take stuff away, quite frankly. But this one, it worked out great. So yeah, I was happy for him, and he does have, I think, some confidence.”

On how he would grade Benny Snell's performance vs. New Mexico State:I think he was a good solid B. He had a couple things. He had a couple freshman things that you all don't see that he's got to get better at. But for a freshman to come in and run that way and do what he did, I was so proud of him and I was excited. But he's gotta take it to the next level now, you know? You got everybody back healthy. And my group now, you guys gotta understand now, is as good a competition as you could ever have. They are fighting and it's tough. I told you guys Mikel Horton's trying to get on the field. Jojo's back. Sihiem is trying to get some touches. We tried on a couple and we missed on him. But it's fierce, and it's frustrating for them, but there's one ball. So hopefully they'll hang in there. Y'all know at running back, last year I think they ended up with about two at the end of the year, and that's this business and that's this league. So, I’m having to, you know, motivate them every week, and it’s hard to get them to come out here and practice for two hours and then not play. That’s the hardest thing. You’ve got to have some – suck up your pride, and you’ve got to be a team guy. It’s tough, but that’s the way it is.”

On coaching with Will Muschamp at Auburn: “Good friends. The one thing I always remembered about Will was his competitiveness and how he loves football. The other thing about Will was you have loyal friends in this business, and when we got let go at Auburn there was one guy that called me every week when I did not have a job. He was one of them. I had about two or three guys that would call me, ask me, ‘How you doing?’ Will Muschamp called me on a weekly basis. What can I do for you? And he was instrumental in calling Lane Kiffin for me to get hired at Tennessee.”

On if that gives any insight to looking at his defense: “No. Will is going to do what he does, and that’s what makes him such a really good coach. We’re watching last year’s game – he’s watching. It’s the same thing. You look at his schemes from where he’s been. Has there been a major change? No.”

On if Boom Williams is consistent in the blitz pickup: “He only had actually really one big opportunity to pickup the full blitz, and he did. He got it done. The week before that wasn’t so good, but he’s really worked on it hard. So we’re trying to get better at that.”

On if he’s spoken to Muschamp this week: “I have not. No. I won’t talk to him this week. I’ll see him on the field.”

On if he would text him any smack talk: “No, no. I won’t do that. I’m not going to do that. That will just tick him off.”

On South Carolina being an opportunistic defense with points allowed not matching yards allowed: “They’re a great third-down team, they’re a great red-zone team. And we’ve got our hands full. They are a good defense. The yards don’t mean jack. We can have 200 yards and 28 points -- I’d be fired up. This 400-600 yards stuff and you come out with 17 points, that’s bad ball. So, we’ve got to win on third down and we’ve got to make sure in the red zone that we’re not kicking field goals. Those are fine, but we can’t be down there six times and kick two field goals. You know what I mean? I want to score all the time. That’s our goal. And I think that will be the difference in this game.”

On if there’s still a chance Barker could play Saturday: “Yeah, I think he’s got some stuff still coming in terms of MRIs and where he’s got to go. I don’t know that full strength, full disclosure on that, but I know they’re still checking him and I know he’s got another meeting.”

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