Jen Smith on UK Football

Q&A: Cats coordinators Gran, House discuss second spring scrimmage


On if anyone played an April Fool's joke on him today: “Not yet. (Smiling) It's still early.”

On what he thought of scrimmage: “I thought we were more efficient. I thought we had some more explosive plays this week, and then not as many penalties, that we were a little bit more focused than we were last week. And we looked like we ran the ball a little bit better.”

On what he saw from Drew Barker leading offense to touchdown: “He did. He looked comfortable. We managed that a little bit for him. Wanted to make sure he didn't have to throw the ball down the field four or five plays in a row, but did a nice job. Pulled the ball, ran it. He looked very comfortable.”

On individual players that stood out: “Yeah, you know, some contested catches. I thought Kayaune Ross made one, a couple. So did Tavin Richardson, big-time play over on the sideline. Blake Bone caught a long ball. Some of those guys that I talked about last week that really need to step up for us to be successful, I thought they did a good job today. I really did. It was exciting to see. Looked like we were efficient on third down and they made some big money plays on those third down catches, so that was really good.”

On how some of his young running backs are coming along: “Sihiem, I thought, had a really good day today. He caught some balls out of the backfield, got some good screens, but in the run game he made some people miss. He does some things – he's that change-up guy. A.J. Rose had a long run. It was good to see him pop through there and see his speed. I was pleased with those young guys, the guys that we've got to get those yards from. I think they're on the right track.”

On what is special about Sihiem King:He's got that quickness. He's different than Benny. Benny is downhill and he's gonna punish you, and Sihiem's more of a scat back. He's got a chance in a phone booth to make you miss.”

On how Stephen Johnson looked today: “No turnovers, which is the most important thing. I thought we did a really good job protecting the ball. We had a ball out but we had a guy down there covering and we recovered it. That was by Greg (Hart) and his partner Justin (Rigg) came down and recovered it for him, so that was good to see. But another efficient day for him, and managed our offense really well. He looks very comfortable.”

On Justin Rigg: “Athletic, caught the ball very – I mean, he gets the ball thrown anywhere and it just looks like he can gobble it up and catch it, you know? He had a couple catches today. The biggest thing with him is gonna be his run-blocking, get a little bit more booty in him over the offseason so we can move people, but he can run vertically and he can catch the ball. Very athletic.”

On Benny Snell getting frustrated when he gets tackled and if that's a good trait: “Benny's a passionate football player. Not a lot of people have as much passion, but he's got to learn to control that. He and I talked about it. Had a great week last week of him – our defense is really working on thudding you up and we're not tackling, but we're getting after you in practice. The defense is doing a great job doing that and he's learning now to run through and don't worry about it. Don't turn back and say something. Just quit running your mouth. He had a great week doing that and then he gets in a scrimmage type deal and you got to learn to control that passion, and that's what coach is trying to get everybody to. But I think he'll get there, for sure.”


On what he saw today from defense in scrimmage: “I didn’t think we started as fast as we need to. I thought the offense first drive did a good job of going down the field and scoring. I thought as the scrimmage went on, we got a little better, but we didn’t have the same sting at the beginning as we did last week.”

On individual standouts: “I thought Eli Brown made some plays today. He showed up in particular, had a couple TFLs, made a couple plays. Kengera (Daniel) I thought made a couple plays.”

On who he likes at nickel spot, especially with Kendall Randolph out this spring: “Kendall, we’ve been working Jordan Griffin there, Mike Edwards there a little bit. That’s a spot that’s hard to play. It takes a lot of reps, a lot of feel. It’s a spot where you’ve got to really be able to do three things out there: You’ve got to be able to cover; you’ve got to be able to blitz and you’ve got to be able to be a run fitter. That’s a hard spot to play and it takes a lot of reps and it’s a lot of feel things things, too.”

On what he looks for in a nickel player: “Just those three things. A guy that’s got a knack to blitz, a knack to cover and will still mix it up in the run game because there’s a lot of times that he’s a primary fitter in the C or D gap. So that’s a special position now. And it takes a natural football player to play there.”