Jen Smith on UK Football

Q&A: Eddie Gran on newcomer Lynn Bowden, how offense is improving

EDDIE GRAN

On his takeaways from the open practice: “On that day we executed pretty well. I thought we were sharp. We had the least amount of missed mental assignments on that day. The least amount of loafs as a group. We only had eight. In a full practice that’s winning football. That’s what I liked about it. It was really good, especially in your sixth and seventh day.”

On his initial impressions of Lynn Bowden: “He’s swimming right now. He is just trying to learn the offense. He’s athletic, he can catch the ball. Just what we thought. He’s trying to get six practices in one. That’s really hard. We’re going to have to bring him along.”

On how the offense responded in week two: “Pretty good today. It was a real big situational day. We had a third down period where we went almost 27 plays. I thought we did a really good job of executing the third down. Then we ended the practice with two minutes. I think we kinda split two and two with the defense. We won two battles, they won two battles. One where we gotta get a field goal, one where you gotta get a touchdown. Those are situations that you just gotta keep grinding and you have to make sure everyone knows what the situation is. We gotta keep those as many times as possible. Last year we won two games in two minute and we lost one. We’ve gotta be able to win all of them when we get in those situations.”

On managing Nick Haynes’ diabetes and the situation at right guard: “It’s been great because now we’re able to get Naasir (Watkins), Sebastien (Dolcine), some of those young guys and those reps are going to be huge for them, whether or not they’re a part of the package this year, just those reps are huge. They’re getting 20 practices, 29 practices they’re getting the reps. We’re watching (Haynes). He’s doing great. He’s being a great leader and he’s coaching the heck out of them. We’re getting a lot out of it.”

On what he’s seeing from George Asafo-Adjei: “He’s had his best camp so far since he’s been here. Less mental errors; really you don’t see him a lot showing up because of the mental errors. He’s really been locked in and doing a great job.”

On Drake Jackson: “The biggest thing for him is the technique part of it. You get in there and you get into better players. Our defensive front is doing a great job, doing a lot of movement. When he gets singled up, he’s got to really use his technique to be good. For those centers, for us, it’s got to be operation. We’ve had a couple situations where we’re not getting a clean snap and Coach is working on that, Coach Schlarman. For our offense to operate, everything’s got to be right. Drake’s getting all of that right now, but he’s done a really good job for us.”

On if playing QB in high school allows Bowden to be brought along more quickly physically: “No, not really because that receiver position is so different. So he’s got to learn that craft first. When he learns that craft, then we can start bringing him in and doing some other things with him. But one thing at a time. We’ve got a long season ahead of us.”

On if he’s seen Charles Walker take a step from where he was last year: “I have. The other day, I thought he did a really good job, made that long catch, made some plays right here in our two-minute drill. He has to be. He’s got to be Mr. consistent. He’s got to be that guy that when we go to him he makes those plays, especially when we get into spread formations.”

On if he’s seeing anything from A.J. Rose that he hadn’t seen before:Yeah, not necessarily. I do like that he has continued to progress in the offense, a lot less of the mental errors and you just keep seeing the athleticism pop out. So I’m excited for running back. I’m excited for Saturday. Saturday’s gonna be our first one where — you don’t know if it’s a broken tackle, you don’t know if he’s running through or not, you don’t know if he’s making him miss, so Saturday’s gonna be a big day for our running backs.”

On Bryant Koback:Well, he was out for a couple days, just because we’ve got to make sure that after being out for so long that we take care of him. But the first five practices that I saw, he’s got some juice to him, can make people miss and his toughness and he’s really smart.”

On if Garrett Johnson has stepped into the playmaking role:He has. I tell you yesterday we moved him outside and he moved outside, too. That gives you that speed where we can take it off the top from secondaries and gives us a chance to work some other guys inside. And again, it would allow us to work Lynn a little bit more, just feeding reps when you put Juice outside. ...The competition at all the receiving positions has been really good. Kayaune Ross has come in and he’s been working with the ones a little bit, too. And then Blake (Bone) came in today, and today I felt Blake. That to me showed that he’s gonna compete. With those guys, they’re all gonna get the same type of reps. It’s just a matter of who can we count on when it’s time to make a play.”

On if he sees any difference between Drew Barker now and before his injury: “I don’t, and that’s been really encouraging. Coach Hinshaw is doing a great job of doing grasp drills. Some stuff where he’s throwing and twisting and getting on the ground without him getting hit. It’s been really good so far.”

On what he sees in JaVonte Richardson: “He’s another one, a freshman, where the problem is the offense — learning that and getting into the offense. He’s got talent. There’s no doubt about that. I think all those young freshmen receivers we’re really excited about. It’s going to be who progresses the most in terms of learning it.”

On QBs hitting TEs and slot receivers more during open practice and how much that could help offense: “Space is the name of the game. If those guys can go in there and work linebackers and work nickel players and we can be consistent at that we’ll be a lot better. Greg (Hart) caught a nice route here, we used the middle of the field, and caught a touchdown. So we’re able to use the middle of the field and attack it with those guys because they’re doing the right things.”

On what was wrong with Johnson and Conrad last year: “It’s two-fold always. Is the receiver in the right place? Is he at the right landmark? Did the quarterback throw the ball? Target balls. Period. The end. It’s technique. It’s all technique.”

On where Stephen Johnson has made the most progress: “I would say right now his intermediate passes. Hitting those better, on stride, not behind them. So I would say that’s the biggest improvement for Stephen.”

On improvement from other young o-linemen: “Yeah, I think Mason Wolfe is a guy. We moved him from tackle, we moved him to guard. I think guard is a really good spot for him. And he’s played our fourth-team center, so we’ve been able to put him there and let him go in there and get some reps. I guess that’s one from last year that’s popped out. The extra reps in bowl practice, he’s getting on with it.”

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