Jen Smith on UK Football

Q&A: UK’s Eddie Gran on Johnson’s issues, positive play makers in run game


On what stood out on Vandy film: “Great opening first drive. We’ve had a couple we really, our first four games we didn’t do a very good job at coming out. At Alabama we did. We sustained something. We had a chance. We put points on the board and I thought that was really good. We really had a chance that second drive, too. Again, this sounds like a broken record, just comes down to consistency. We go two plays three and out, four and out and then we get a nice 14-play drive. So we’ve just got to continue to be consistent in what we’re doing. We’ve got to get better in a lot of areas. That’s great about a bye week and what we’re doing. You can work on fundamentals. You can work on technique. Stephen, our passing game, with our receivers, our protection and everybody that’s involved in that working on concepts, working on our reads. Seeing the defense, giving him more stuff and more stuff so he continues to get comfortable and gets better. So it’s a great time for this to be happening.”

On Johnson running the ball more Saturday and if it was opportunity or something he’ll do more: “Well, it’s what the defense gives you with some of our stuff, with the read game and then the pocket being a little bit more comfortable and sitting in there and stepping up and throwing. Some of them, he didn’t have a chance to step up and throw and he got us some first downs by running the ball. Some of it for what we do allows him to run the ball. For example, the touchdown he scored. Great read, made a great decision. Those things I think he’s doing very well.”

On if footwork was issue for Johnson: “Yeah. I think him getting comfortable, moving a little bit to the left too quick. He had a tendency of doing that. Those are the things we’re working on right now. You’ve got a lot of time to get that corrected and I know that he is a great competitor. He’s doing everything he can. But what you don’t want him to do is you don’t want him to press. You don’t want him to get to where he’s afraid and I don’t want to be that. I want him to go out there and play and I believe he’ll do that. I really do. He threw the ball really well today in seven on seven and that was really good to see.”

On if Johnson is too hard on himself and if he sees that a lot with players: “I think you are and I think there has to be a fine balance there. You have to find the balance of making sure. I always talk about short-term memories. Boy, at that position, you better have a short-term memory. It’s like the corner position, like that left tackle position. You’ve got to move forward. There’s another one. We’ve got Mississippi State coming. You’ve got to -- that one’s done now. We’ve put it to rest. And we’ve got a great opportunity to get better fundamentally.”

On if Dorian Baker has had to shake off rust: “A little bit, but I’ll tell you what he did. He competed and he got after it and he was physical. I really saw some good things out there today, too. He looks like he’s back full speed. And he ended up getting 30-plus reps, which was good for his first time back. So that was great.”

On if Snell was on radar at Cincinnati: “He was. Absolutely. He came up. Yeah, he was.”

On his first impressions of Snell: “I got to go watch him play basketball. And after I went and watched him, what I saw on film was just gosh, this guy makes a lot of yards and he busts a lot of tackles. A lot like Rudi Johnson was when I had Rudi at Cincinnati. You worried about the speed, but you know what? Rudi Johnson rushed for 1,600 yards and he just broke tackles and he was able to make jump cuts and that’s the back that Benny is. When I got to see him play basketball, you could see his explosiveness in gym shorts and how he played defense and his tenacity. That’s what I liked. I watched him. I like to see how they compete in another sport.”

On if he ran anyone over in basketball: (Laughter) “No, he didn’t. He bangs in there, though. But I did love his competition. He was throwing some chicken wings and getting after it.”

On how Jojo Kemp ran in the last game: “Downhill. Did a great job when he bounced that one outside showed us a little bit a speed. I give him a hard time because I tell him he can’t run but that was a huge play in the game when he bounced that out. Those usually don’t do that in the play that we had, but he made something happen. He’s getting to feeling a little bit better now and his body is full speed now and he’s getting into a little rhythm.”

On what makes Wildcat package hard to defend and what is it that Kemp does well out of it: “No, I think you can -- that’s as we self scout right now, we get to now re-evaluate what’s been good, what’s been bad, how can we change things, the things that have been good because they’re seeing the same stuff we’re seeing and that’s what this week is for. As you change things up, we’ve motioned in it in different ways. We’ve formationed it so we can do more things to help it. It just causes grief sometimes for defensive coordinators if you can get in the formation and gap them out a little bit. If they blitz, they can get you sometimes, but at the same time you get big plays, too, if we’re doing what we’re supposed to do.”

On if they add new things during the evaluation period: “Absolutely. Absolutely you do. You’ve got to be careful there, but I think you’ve got to evolve. Then you have to see the stuff you failed at and what has been bad. You’ve either got to fix it or cut it out and move forward. We’ve got some good information on the good part and the bad part.”

On Boom Williams response since fumble on Saturday: “Unbelievable. He had a great practice, unbelievable in the film room today. It had nothing to do with anything except those two other guys were rolling. They were going and we had a nice little rhythm. He’s going to be just fine. I’m excited as a matter of fact to see him in the next game.”

On Boom Williams’ attitude: “I love Boom. Love Benny. Love everybody on our team. We won the game and he’s excited about that. There’s going to be some things that happen and he’ll recover and he already has and it’s time to move on. That’s one thing about me and I told the guys this earlier, I’ve got short-term memories and he’s not going to be the first one or the last one (to fumble). It’s not going to be the last one that happens, you know. Again, if I could’ve put him in the next three series from there or whatever, OK. I could have. But we were on a roll. We were going. Had nothing to do with anything else.”

On him saying at beginning of the year whatever running back has the hot hand gets ball: “Yes, sir, I did.”

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader