Jen Smith on UK Football

Q&A: Eddie Gran on return from spring break, Barker getting more reps


On first day back from spring break: “A little bit of a slow start, a little sluggish, but I thought they picked it up at the end a little bit better, just not enough consistency as we went along, but I think as the practice went on, the cobwebs and everything, we kind of went back to install one, two and three, what we had did before we left. We put those three together so we wouldn’t blow their mind totally, but now we’re going to go back to install on Thursday, so it’s going to be a big mental day tomorrow and Thursday before we get into our first scrimmage.”

On how many players stuck around for spring break: “Stayed here? Gosh I have no idea. I know my guys went home. You talking about stayed right here in Lexington? Shoot, I don’t know. I think everybody went home except a small percentage, but I don’t know.”

On Drew Barker: “Yeah, he came in and got some reps. Got some reps in team, got some reps in 1-on-1s. He was kinda just put in there at periodic times. Not really getting into rhythm, just wanting to see where he’s at and how he feels after this. We’ll see how it is and we’ll keep progressing him as we go. But he got more reps than he’s had the last three practices before he came back.”

On if Barker still needs to be eased in compared to other QBs: “Yeah. That’s why it was just one rep here, one rep there. It’s crazy to go in there and throw him in there for seven plays in a row. That doesn’t make any sense. We have to see where it’s at, how he feels. We’re talking to him each day. We’ll just take it nice and easy. There’s no hurry. We don’t have to win a game here in the next couple of weeks. That’s a good thing.”

On what the receivers have to get better at this spring: “It’s more — this goes for the whole offense — it’s truly the details and the little things of, punching, pivoting, how are you going to finish a break? How are you going to come back to a break? Competing every single rep. Going up making a tough catch. There’s going to be competing going on. There’s going to be contested balls. We have to make sure we do that. Just some more discipline and details.”

On what Clevan Thomas adds: “I’ll tell ya, he’s pretty good. I’ll tell you what he does, he battles. He’s understanding it. He reminds me a little bit of Benny in terms of his mentality and how he’s going about it as a freshman. Now, lot of time left and all that, but I sure do like where he’s at.”

On if Thomas will play slot or on the outside: “Right now he’s playing both slots. He’s playing the F and the Y. He’s actually learning both, which is pretty good for a true freshman. He’s getting in there and mixing it up. I do like his toughness. He’s got a mental toughness about him.”

On what Blake Bone needs to do to improve: “Blake’s got to, the biggest thing with Blake is consistency. It is being the guy that you can count on. So, that’s what we’ve talked about. He’s really working. He’s trying, he really is. He’s trying hard and hopefully we’ll see it when we get to some scrimmages here this spring. We have some guys that are going to be able to compete and make some plays. Cause that’s what he’s gonna have to do to get on the field.”

On Jabari Greenwood: ”Identical. They're identical. I mean, those guys gotta make plays. We've got guys, like I said a couple weeks ago, we lost some guys. Those guys gotta come in and it's their turn. There's no – it's done now. They're in their second year or whatever it might be. It's time to go, or they're gonna get passed up, because we got more guys coming in.”

On if attention to detail is difficult to get from players after break: “Probably, yes. But those are the guys that you want to be able to count on, the ones who can come back from this and a 10-day layoff and focus and get rid of the clutter. Spring break's over and we have a job to do. You only got 15 of these things so you can't waste one. We wasted a couple, probably, series today, but I don't think we wasted the whole practice. That's when you get frustrated. They did come back, they did compete and that's a good thing. It's shows you're growing.”

On Bryant Koback’s status after leg injury: “He can’t do anything. He has not even taken — He can’t even be in individual. He won’t be doing anything until the summer. That’s when we’ll know a little bit more about him.”

On how interior offensive line has performed with full contact: “We were really high. We played high, and we weren’t physical enough. And that goes for the tight ends. We talked about that before we came out today: One of the things we had to work on from what we saw last Thursday (before spring break) with pads on is that we’re playing too high and we’re not physical enough. We need to be flat-back, we need to come off the ball.”

On how other TEs have used extra reps with C.J. Conrad out this spring: “Greg’s progressing. Looks like he’s getting better, which will be good for him to get those reps. Then Justin, he catches the ball really well. You can see the athleticism in him for a big, tall guy. His biggest thing is going to be, can he be an on-the-line guy? Can he block? Can he handle up and be — he’s blocking a nine-technique or he’s blocking a six-technique — can he hold up? So that’s what we’re going to find out here this spring.”

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