Jen Smith on UK Football

Is quarterback situation settled? ‘Weird’ stadium assessments, more on Muschamp and Gran

▪ ▪  Quarterback questions: No, Drew Barker did not practice on Tuesday. He’s still out after suffering a back injury against New Mexico State and having some longer term back issues evaluated with a specialist on Wednesday. “They’re still getting evaluated and still getting in stuff with Drew,” offensive coordinator Eddie Gran said. “That’s all we know right now. Right now, Stephen’s the guy.” Stephen Johnson got the first team reps and true freshman Gunnar Hoak got the backup reps with some for transfer Luke Wright as well. South Carolina Coach Will Muschamp said on Tuesday that the Gamecocks are preparing for both players. “I expect both guys to play, obviously, and they don’t really change a whole lot as far as what they do schematically based on who's in the game. So we have to prepare for both guys.” For his part, Gran refused to rule out Barker getting back for the game.

▪ ▪  A ‘good solid B’: Apparently running for a school-record tying four touchdowns and 136 yards in the game where you got your first career touches isn’t enough to earn you an “A” with your position coach and offensive coordinator. Gran was asked about Snell’s big day: “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.” Snell will still be competing in an ever-crowded running backs room, Gran said, and the player he replaced on Saturday (Jojo Kemp, who had an ankle injury, is back this week). The offensive coordinator called it “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.”

▪ ▪  A friend across the field: Kentucky’s Gran and South Carolina’s Muschamp were on the Auburn staff together in 2006 and 2007 and the Gamecocks head coach called Gran “one of the great guys in our profession who does a fantastic job offensively.” After Gran was fired at Auburn, he said Muschamp called him every week when he didn’t have a job. “I had about two or three guys that would call me, ask me, ‘How you doing?’ Will Muschamp called me on a weekly basis,” Gran recalled. “What can I do for you? And he was instrumental in calling Lane Kiffin for me to get hired at Tennessee.” But Gran said his previous relationship with Muschamp, who coached against Kentucky last season as Auburn’s defensive coordinator, doesn’t necessarily help with game prep. “Will is going to do what he does, and that’s what makes him such a really good coach.”

▪ ▪  Commonwealth Stadium discussions: Muschamp was asked Tuesday about playing at Kentucky previously and he complimented UK on taking that next step in facilities. “They’ve done a fantastic job with their stadium,” he said. “The suites in, I guess the north end zone are beautiful. They put the Field Turf in, I guess two years ago. I know they've redone their football operations facility and just moved into it this summer, I believe. It’s a really nice stadium. Our fans probably go to Keeneland during the day, right?” Sorry, coach, Keeneland doesn’t open until Oct. 7. South Carolina senior linebacker Chris Moody also was asked about the atmosphere at Commonwealth Stadium and gave an interesting reply. “It’s just so weird when you get off the bus and get into the stadium. It’s a weird place to play. I can’t tell you why. It’s just a weird place to go line up and play.” A reporter asked if it is too quiet. “It’s quiet. The last time we played it was kind of foggy. It’s just a weird place to play.”