Jen Smith on UK Football

Q&A: Eddie Gran on what worked offensively and play of several UK stars

EDDIE GRAN

On how Stephen Johnson is looking: “Stephen looked good today. Had a really good Tuesday practice. I was really excited about how we finished team. Today we ran really good tempo and we were really efficient. I was excited by how he threw the ball today, especially today in seven on seven.”

On what stood out about receivers on Saturday: “Well, they had some opportunities to make some plays and that’s a great thing, something we needed to do. We had the plan to have some shots in the Vanderbilt game; it didn’t allow that. Got close and we needed to do what we had to do. We had a couple drops that we haven’t had, but you know what, I thought (Garrett Johnson) came back at the end, made a huge play for us at the end of the game that cleared it out for Jeff (Badet). He just kept pounding away and guys were encouraging and the attitude was awesome. They had some opportunities and they made them count, so I thought that was really good for them. Because they’d been competing. They had to do a lot of blocking, but again, we told them their time would come and that’s why this is a selfless game.”

On Ryan Timmons being used and how he’s doing: “In this offense, you can get him on fly sweeps and you can get him on reverses and you can get him on certain things, but we’ve gotten him the ball on some down the field stuff and he’s always going to be a part of it. Sometimes his read doesn’t take it to him or we make the wrong read, so I think it will get distributed a little more as we keep going and if we keep throwing the ball better.”

On Timmons looking more confident catching the ball: “Looks strong, I agree with you. He looks really strong when he catches it. And he’s been making some plays for us. Always good to see him make plays for us.”

On the trick plays and how much of it has he used previously: “Some a little bit during the bye week that we got off of some of the packages that we had. Some of them we’d been working for a long time. It was like the screen pass to C.J. We’ve been working all those.You have to have a menu that you keep working for certain coverages and certain situations, so we’ll continue to do that and we’ll build on that this week and put some more in.”

On if he’s felt good about those plays: “Yes, we have. It’s been really good. Kids have really bought into it. It’s got to be timing. Sometimes they look awful, it’s like a screen pass, they’re 50-50.”

On Stoops’ conversation with Badet and if he was part of that conversation: “No. They don’t want to talk to me. Nope.”

On what it says about Badet that he played so well on Saturday after some frustration: “It’s awesome the talks and all of that, but I think Jeff would’ve -- it’s good that that can happen and he responded with having a great game. That’s all I know about it.”

On what offense did best on Saturday: “Uhh, I thought when we came out in the second half, we did what we should’ve did in the first half. Other than the fumble, but we came out and scored three touchdowns in a row, had a chance for four. I’m taking responsibility for the one. That was a bonehead mistake, bonehead call. I could’ve totally helped him out in that situation and I didn’t. But it’s part of it. He’s got responsibility and he knows that, but I could’ve eliminated that. But how they came out in the second half and how they responded. We were not very consistent in the first half, but we drove the ball and we had field goals instead of touchdowns and that was bad. I thought our two two-minute drills were fantastic. I thought that we got points at the end of the half. We got that three points there and at the end of the game we got three points. I thought we can build off those two things.”

On the play of the offensive line, particularly the center and two guards:Been really good, the center and two guards. I think the rotation part of it has kept them healthy. I think it's kept them fresh. I think it's kept them to where, as coach talked about, they finishing part of it and getting stronger during the year. I think we're strong. We're not losing weight and we're not losing strength. Coach Ed (Corey Edmond) has done a great job in the weight room and I think that's helped us in the run game.”

On how Benny Snell has changed mentally since he's been at UK:You know what, it's pretty amazing that each week as we add stuff and we keep going, he keeps retaining it and he keeps going. There's times where I got to kick him in the rear end, because you can imagine people patting him on the back. You can only imagine him being a true freshman and everybody patting him on the back and saying great job, freshman of the week and all that. It's my job, this week, I have been crushing him and bringing him right back down to reality. And we laugh about it and joke about it but you got to be careful. You can't ever get bigger than this football team. Ever. Nobody can. He's not. I'm just reminding him.”

On what crushing Snell looks and sounds like in practice:It's really not in practice. It's just kind of little jabs here and there, that Benny's got all the answers. Walk by and make sure seniors hear and make sure people that need to hear it. But it's been good. He's got a good attitude. It's everything. It's going to school, it's going to tutors, it's making sure your grades are right. It's the whole thing. When you get into this part of the season, that's when it starts getting you. You're in game 7, 8, 9 and all that. You're a freshman, you got all the academics and the tutors and those responsibilities and football. It can get overwhelming. Last week, brought him in, we sat down and we had a nice conversation. Really it was about life. How's he doing? And you got to keep doing that and Coach Stoops I think does a great job of reminding us that we've got to make sure that we get those things done with our players.”

On how vital a consistent run game has been to Kentucky's success:I think our kids have bought in, you know? Just like we talked about with our receivers, they were frustrated, but winning's fun. They've done what they've had to do for us to win and I think it's really paid off. We came into this thing saying in this league you got to run the ball, and we've been fortunate we've been able to do that. I think it's showed that it's helped our passing game this last week. We had some guys open and it was because of the run game. So I think they go hand in hand and I think our kids have bought into what we're doing and what we're coaching.”

On how nice it is that Snell is suited to running out clock in late game situations:Yeah, it is. We got Benny in there and you got Jojo (Kemp) that's been doing a great job, too. Boom (Williams) got a little bit of the wildcat stuff. We were able to in the off week kind of create ways where we can get him back there and that helped us. We had two plays that went for about 70 yards back-to-back with him. Something we've never shown. I think you can create that through different formations and things that people haven't seen. Anytime you can take that clock and you can get first downs – and that's the key. When we're successful, we convert on third down, and we were better on third down this last week.”

On how much this season has challenged him as an offensive coordinator:You know what, again, the great thing about this thing, our staff does a great job, our players – and this is my philosophy. They went out, they have to execute it. We had somebody come in and talk to us, and it really is. You can call plays and I know there’s setting up plays and stuff like that but at the end of the day it’s about the players and they’ve just bought in and done a really good job. Our coaches are coaching their tail off, and I think they’re doing a great job. I think that’s what this is all about.”

On how important it is to show new wrinkles at this point in the season so opponents don’t zone in on what they’re doing: “Every week. It’s more wrinkles this week, and they’ve handled it very well.”

On if he expects Missouri to change some things up after a difficult game: “Absolutely. Yeah, Coach Odom does a great job over there. They’ll be ready to go, and it will be a dog fight. There’s no question: That team will be ready to roll.”

On if he’s ever been a part of a winning team with a bad turnover ratio: “I would probably say no. It says a little bit about our team in terms of how we’ve been able to overcome that. It’s like I told them the other day, how good we actually could be in putting people away. That’s got to get fixed if we want to meet our goals and do what we have to do and finish. And that’s all I’m going to say about it.”

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