Jen Smith on UK Football

Q&A: Kentucky's Gran pleased after offense bounces back

EDDIE GRAN

On if today’s practice was better than Saturday: “Yes. Better Kool-Aid. A lot better. They came out and they competed all day long. It was really good on both sides in terms of the competition. That’s when you know you’re getting better, so I was really excited. I really didn’t know that’s how they were going to react and respond, so it was really good.”

On if any leaders stepped up and if it was the guys he expected: “I think the guys we expected. There was some other young guys that I’m not gonna talk about right now, but I heard some stuff, and some enthusiasm and some encouragement that I hadn’t been hearing. They got the message. It was all good.”

On if Stephen Johnson saying after the scrimmage that it was on him and that it’s his offense was what he wants in a quarterback: “Absolutely.”

On if he knows why things went the way they went at practice Saturday: “Yeah, they stopped competing. They just stopped competing. They thought it was going to be easy. As soon as you think it’s gonna be easy, you’re gonna get your tail kicked. I thought we learned from that in the bowl game on offense. You can’t just show up and think you’re gonna beat somebody. You go against our defense every single day and they’re competing. They’re getting after it, they’re getting their tail kicked sometimes, we’re getting our tail kicked sometimes. It’s great when you’re competing like that, but when you just let it happen, let it happen, let it happen — that’s what you can’t have. You’ve gotta be able to recover. You’ve gotta be able to make a play, and that’s what we’re trying to learn. And today they did that. It went back and forth on both sides, and that’s what you’re looking for. That was so awesome to see. You can’t go out there and think you’ve arrived. You can’t think you’re bigger than the team, and you’ve got to compete on every play in this league.”

On how the running backs are coming along: “I really like where we’re at physicality wise. We’re coming off the ball. We’re getting some good movement with our guards in there, and that’s really where it starts. I think we’ve run the ball really consistent, and we’ve just gotten better. After a year being in this offense we’re now making calls faster. Not so many mental errors, and that’s what I was really looking for this spring. Really being more technique is a cliché, but we have to.”

On how the running backs have picked up on where they left off last year: “Well, you know, we did what we had to do to win. Again, as we continue to evolve in this offense, our quarterbacks evolve and our receivers evolve, there’s going to be games where we throw the ball more. Last year for a few games we didn’t. We had to kinda ease into that. Then we became a little bit more of a pound, play-action team. As we get better in dropback pass and Stephen is getting better, Drew is getting better, Gunnar Hoak is getting better. We’re competing and we’re getting better at all those positions. Hopefully this offense will be better.”

On Eddie Gran wanting the running backs to know the whole offense and if Benny Snell understands it now: “He’s trying. He really is. He gets it. He’s listening. He’s not there yet. But I do love that when he makes a mistake usually it doesn’t happen again. That’s really good, especially for a young player. He does. He really gets it. I’ll ask questions and our guys have to talk in meetings. So I’ll ask him ‘What’s the quarterback looking at right now?’ They better see the rotation and understand where the protection is going. I think he’s getting a lot better at it. He is getting it.”

On what he likes about A.J. Rose: “He’s really athletic. I told you the other day he got up to 21 miles per hour. For that big body to get that fast with our GPS, that’s pretty impressive. I think just the way he’s evolved learning the offense. Last year compared to this year is night and day. He’s doing a great job. He’s doing a great job in the classroom. I think there’s a direct correlation with those two. He’s just bought in. He’s getting it. He’s not a freshman anymore. He’s maturing.”

On what would make the spring game successful for the offense: “Nobody get hurt and let’s go on down the road and get ready for our first game. Spring games, I love them and they’re great. I can’t wait to see all the fans. Love the support. But at the end of the day, the meat and the potatoes are done. It’s going to be very basic. Let’s lineup and be 100 percent on assignment. With the plays I’m gonna call, if we don’t get lined up and there’s a (missed assignment) we’re going to have some serious issues. Everyone should be perfect. We should have 100 percent. The effort should be 100 percent. Our technique should be 100 percent. So the answer to that question is I want 100 percent.”

On if he knows how much Drew Barker will be able to go on Friday: “I do not. I’m not sure. Not sure if he’s going. We’re getting ready to talk about that.”

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