Jen Smith on UK Football

Q&A: Gran on who’s caught his eye this spring, red zone install


On if it was good getting back in the stadium: “Yes. Half of it was in the indoor and then we got the rest of the half of practice outside. A lot more energy when we came out in the second half, so that was a lot of fun to get out there and do that. We introduced red zone today and there’s a lot of concepts and you always worry about that. We had our last install, but they handled it pretty good. We had a little bit of work to do on it — made some mistakes — but I thought they executed pretty good for the first time.”

On if anyone has stood out midway through spring: “You know right now consistency wise, I really like where Stephen is right now. I think he’s been really consistent in what he’s doing, making really good decisions. I like how he’s leading. The receiving crew I think they’ve taken a step right now between the scrimmage and today. We talked about Blake (Bone) and Tavin (Richardson) and some of those guys having to step up and get those extra yards. Dorian made a couple of great catches today that were fantastic. Tavin made a contested catch in the red zone, which he’s going to have to do as a big body. So I think those guys are really making a push. A.J. Rose — going back and looking at the film, he put one ball on the ground — but you can see his talent. As he continues to improve, I think he’s going to be real good and I think up front, we’re using a lot of guys. Right now Nick is just doing a good job because we’re moving him around everywhere. He’s got a lot of thinking to do, so those guys are kind of sticking out right now. Greg Hart I think is having a solid spring right now, too.”

On where Haynes is playing: “Everywhere. Guard, center, we need to move him to tackle, haven’t done that yet, but he’s doing a good job.”

On if he’s a candidate to start at center: “Absolutely. Everybody is. We’ve got four guys working center position and everybody’s a candidate.“

On if that means he's not happy with any of them: ”No. It's like your quarterback, right? If you don't have three centers ready to go in the season, you're done. So what better way than to try to get three guys ready, with Luke Fortner and then you got Bunchy (Stallings) and you got Nick (Haynes). It's fantastic for us to be able to put four guys in there, three for sure.”

On how Gunnar Hoak and Danny Clark looked in scrimmage, practice Tuesday:Gunnar is looking a lot more comfortable. He really is. Gunnar had another pretty good day today. He looks a lot more confident. Danny's a freshman, you know? Struggling at times. You see his arm strength at times, some really good things. There was a scramble in the scrimmage and he threw a touchdown. For those guys at quarterback when you're a freshman, there is so much, and I think you'll see things slow down for him as you get into the fall. Maybe even at the end of the spring, he'll be able to do that, but right now things are going fast for him. But boy, he's in there every day. He's working to get better.”

On Landon Young having a season under his belt: “You can see his confidence and you can see his athleticism. Just everything. He's just getting so much better. Not so many mental mistakes, I guess you would say there. Now everything is coming down to him with footwork. You get faster guys on the edge, our guys are getting better on defense, and so he better be perfect technique wise or you get beat and you get exposed out there. So that's what we're really working at with him.”

On who has been the biggest problem up front on defense:I think Denzil (Ware) has probably been the biggest guy. He's got a great first move, he gets low, he's athletic, his speed rush is crazy and if you don't get back vertical then you're gonna be in trouble, and we got beat on some speed rushes because of that. We opened up the gate and therefore we're done. And when he makes our quarterback do that, then he's got to step up into that pocket and if they get pushed inside, then you usually have a broken play. So Denzil's probably been the biggest one out there for us.”

On Kayuane Ross:A couple really good catches today. Another one with Tavin and the Blake and the Kayuane as I talked about. He would be the other one. I like where he's at right now. I hate to say (knocks on wooden podium) — We’ll see. That’s the one thing: You give them a compliment and that’s a good thing, but they’ve got to be able to handle that. You’ve got to come and you’ve got to go through the grind every single day. Coach talked about that today. We’re halfway through. At the beginning it was kind of tough getting everybody – you’ve got to go. Then we came back and we finished strong, had a great end to the practice. But man, you’ve got to grind. After a big scrimmage you’ve got to come back on Tuesday and you’ve got to get ready to go and you can’t waste one. I don’t think we wasted one, but then we’ve got to come Thursday and work and then you’ve got another scrimmage on Saturday. There’s going to be a lot to find out here in the next Tuesday now that everything is in to find out with those receivers the consistency, but I sure do like where they’re at.”

On if Clevan Thomas has handled recent praise well: “He has. Yes, he has. He’s humble. He humbles, he gets it. He understands that he doesn’t — He figured it out in that scrimmage. It’s not like a practice. Those bullets were flying. Nobody’s out there telling him what to do, and he had to line up. So, he kind of went through a learning curve there too now. So, he’s a long way away from getting on that field.”

On if this team is different physically than last year: “Yeah, I think so. I think we’re bigger, we’re moving people. I think that because they know where to go it looks like we’re playing faster. I don’t know if that makes us…It looks like everything we’re doing, we’re lining up quicker, we’re playing a little bit faster and our technique is getting a little bit better because they’re two years into this or going into the second year. I’m really excited about that. Now that we’ve got everything in, now we can kind of hopefully hone it in and really just get really good at it. Then some wrinkles, we can add some things that we studied during the spring. We can throw those in each and every day and see if we can get better and just kind of throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks.”