Jen Smith on UK Football

Practice report: Cats still struggling with turnovers, hope to learn from earlier road loss

▪  Avoiding the miscues: With two more turnovers in Saturday’s win over South Carolina, Kentucky moved to 12 on the season, making it the nation’s second-most turnover prone team behind Bowling Green, which has 14 four games into the season. Unlike in past games this season, turnovers didn’t equal points against the Gamecocks, but against a team like No. 1 Alabama, those could be a disaster. “We really can’t make any mistakes going into Alabama playing them,” said UK quarterback Stephen Johnson, who had one pick last week. “They’ve got phenomenal players and we just have to go out there and play 100 percent with no mistakes, no turnovers and be able to move the ball efficiently.”

▪  Learning from a bad road loss: The last time the Cats went on the road in the Southeastern Conference, it ended in a 45-7 disaster at Florida, but coaches and players are hopeful that experience will help going into a hostile environment. “They know in the back of their head they didn’t play well on the road and we have to be a lot better,” offensive coordinator Eddie Gran said. Having that end of the game experience at the Swamp will definitely help Johnson in his first road start, though, his coach said. The junior college transfer said it helped him a lot. “Definitely, this team as well,” he said. “I mean, Alabama is no joke. They’re No. 1 for a reason. They’re going to probably have the same speed, if not faster, than Florida. That atmosphere in Tuscaloosa is going to be off the charts, so it definitely prepared us as an offense and as a team going to Florida, and we’ll see if we’re ready or not.” Under Mark Stoops, UK has had just one win away from Commonwealth Stadium and that was at South Carolina last season.

▪  Offensive line depth: Gran has coached a lot of football, but he’s never seen an offensive line that rotated in so many guys in such a short span of time like UK has. Some of it has been out of necessity with injuries (like injured left tackle Cole Mosier, who is still listed as day to day, Gran said) and some of it has been to develop some depth. Either way, he thinks it helps moving forward. “I think our kids have been able to rest a little bit more,” Gran said. “I think their bodies will be in better shape when we get to the latter part of the year and I think that’s been really good for us.” The Cats have been effective running the ball with several second-team players like Bunchy Stallings, Logan Stenberg and others in the game along with Landon Young, who has been starting at left tackle with Mosier out.

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