Jen Smith on UK Football

Practice report: A lot of talk about calls, Cats miscues and even ‘huge eyes’

▪  Living and learning, play caller edition: On that final drive, offensive coordinator Eddie Gran seemed OK with using the wildcat late in the game “that’s what got us there,” he said. The game wasn’t necessarily won or lost on that drive, but most likely in the third quarter where UK turnovers kept the Georgia defense off the field and allowed it to be fresh on that last drive. “They were still going with some energy and, you know, we just didn’t get it done where we’ve been doing that,” he said of the recipe of wearing opponents down. “We’ve gotten into the fourth quarter and been able to take balls at that particular point and we’ve been able to punch them in.” And that last play where he opted for the fade route in the corner to Dorian Baker? “I guess you can second guess every call you make. … I had about 15 of them after I watched it, I wish I had called. But if that would’ve worked, it would’ve been fantastic. That’s part of it. But, yeah, you live and learn there, too, as a play caller.”

▪  Getting past the drops: On his own, Jeff Badet has watched the play double-digit times, the play where a long likely touchdown pass in the third quarter bounced off his hands and into the hands of a Georgia defender. He still doesn’t know what happened. “It’s a play you all, lots of people have seen me make hundreds of times, so I just won’t let it happen again,” Badet said. He caught that same post route all four times it went to him on Tuesday. “It’s a play I’m capable of making. Just something fluke that happened, just got to make sure it doesn’t happen again.” Stephen Johnson confirmed that Badet had plenty of pretty catches in practice on Tuesday.

▪  The eyes have it: Normally stoic and quiet, Johnson had the media laughing with his answer on a question about whether his eyes get big when he sees Badet in single coverage during a game. “Oh yeah,” he replied. “I mean, I think my eyes get huge anyway — I mean, I’ve just got really big eyes.” Then he added that when he sees the safety come down, “it’s like taking candy from a baby almost to be able to throw him the ball like that.”

▪  Can you hear me now? At his weekly news conference on Monday, Mark Stoops talked about a few small issues on defensive communication in the Georgia game that were abnormal for his group. It wasn’t the only group with those issues on Saturday. Gran saw similar problems on his side of the ball, things he never saw in a hostile environment at Alabama even. “It’s kind of crazy because I don’t know if you get too up for a game and it got too big for just a little bit, but we made some communication errors that we have not been making,” the offensive coordinator said. At practice on Tuesday, there was a massive emphasis placed on talking and making sure the player next to you has received the message, too.

▪  Kemp bouncing back: Running back Jojo Kemp, who broke his hand two games ago against Mississippi State and has missed the last two games wearing a cast, is closer to coming back. “Absolutely,” Gran said. “Had a really good practice today and he’s in the third week of that and today he looked as good as he’s looked since he had that on him.” One of Gran’s biggest concerns about using Kemp in the game was his ability to take direct snaps out of the wildcat package, which Kemp has been able to do well this week in practice.”

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