Jen Smith on UK Football

Practice report: Why Gran says this week ‘is about us,’ Hinshaw’s Bulldogs familiarity and Johnson’s wrist

▪  ‘This is about us’ Pundits and fans can discuss how Alabama’s defensive ends disrupted UK quarterback Stephen Johnson or how Vanderbilt’s disguised coverages hurt UK’s passing game or even what they think Mississippi State’s defense will do against Kentucky. But UK offensive coordinator Eddie Gran seems uninterested in any of that. “Mississippi State, they do a great job,” he said Tuesday. “They mix it up, a lot of multiple coverages, but this is about us. This thing is going to totally be about us. We’ve got to take care of the football, we’ve got to make sure that we stay ahead of the chains. This will be about Kentucky football, that’s it.”

▪  Close connections: It’s not that UK’s coaches aren’t paying attention to what the Bulldogs’ defense has done. In fact there’s plenty of familiarity for co-offensive coordinator Darin Hinshaw and MSU defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon. “He’s a really good friend of mine; I coached with him at Tennessee,” Hinshaw said. “They’re really solid. They know how to stop the run. They know how to stop the pass.” In the two-overtime loss to Brigham Young last week, the Bulldogs held BYU to seven points until the final minutes. Mississippi State’s defense is No. 38 nationally in total defense, allowing just 5.1 yards per play. It is the nation’s 35th best rushing defense. Hinshaw added: “We’ve got to go out with the mindset of taking what they give us when they give it to us and being smart with the football at quarterback.”

▪  Advance scouting: The bye week is time for a little football R&R, but that doesn’t mean the players and coaches ignore football. It’s quite the opposite. UK’s quarterback said he paid careful attention to the defenses of future Cats opponents. “When I’m watching the game I always look to see what coverage they’re in and then see what plays me and Coach Gran and Coach Hinshaw would try to run against their defense,” said Johnson, the UK quarterback. “It’s just something I do watching the games.”

▪  All better now: Much was made and then not made about soreness in Johnson’s throwing wrist the past few weeks. Whether that was a thing that limited him in the past three games or not is hard to say, but he did say it feels “a lot better. … Got some rehab on it. Just about back to 100 percent now. So been doing pretty well.” The nicks and scrapes and soreness is gone for almost everyone now, the quarterback said.

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