Jen Smith on UK Football

Q&A: Gran offers injury updates, discusses offensive line options without Mosier


On if he has an update on Stephen Johnson: “Doing good, be out tomorrow. All good.”

On if he’ll be out for practice: “Absolutely. Practicing.”

On if the boot was precautionary: “Eh. It was just a boot. Just a boot.”

On options for depth at tackle after injury to Cole Mosier: “Well, we’ve got three or four guys we can work back and forth between George (Asafo-Adjei), Landon (Young), you’ve got Kyle (Meadows), who can switch over both sides. Naasir (Watkins) right now is just really has done a nice job athletically. Kind of reminds me of where Landon was last year. So he’s doing a nice job. So we definitely have some options there.”

On import of Landon Young getting experience there last season: “You can’t put that in words because he’s been in games. It’s not going to be anything mind boggling to him. He’ll go out there and that stuff when you’ve got the bullets flying, I think he’ll be a much better player this year. You can already see it right now in practice.”

On ballpark snaps for Young last season: “I do not. I don’t. Coach Schlarman would know that for sure.”

On Saturday’s film and if he had any different perceptions: “Nah. It’s never as good as you think; it’s never as bad as you think. We had our opportunities, like I said on Saturday, and we didn’t execute, but what I did like is we came out yesterday and had a really good day in the red zone, and they responded and we were more efficient on first-down run and third down, we were really good. That’s what I’m looking for: How are you going to respond after the things we didn’t (do). We’ve just got to continue to get better. We’ll go on there and look today and whatever we didn’t get better at, that will be the emphasis tomorrow. If they can continue to grow that way, we’ll have a chance. I talk about consistency and that’s what I want to see out of this group is being consistent.”

On if Barker and Johnson threw ball well on Saturday: “You know what, no turnovers, so that was huge. Nobody turned the ball over. While we threw the ball OK, we weren’t great. ...We did throw the ball well on first down. We were very efficient, 60 percent on first down throwing the ball, which was good to see. We weren’t very good on third down and that had a lot to do with a lot of things, whether it was in protection, whether it was a throw or whether it was drops.

On if the offense has to be adjusted based on the quarterbacks: Absolutely. Well, not in the quarterbacks. Just our personnel. What personnel is going to be the best for us, and that’s what we’re gonna use for the next couple weeks as we continue to evolve in the offense. We’re gonna see if we’re a better 12 team, 11, 10. Can we have more 10 this year? That’s what we’re doing right now. We’re finding out about our personnel. “

On what Drew Barker has shown lately: “He’s done a good job. There’s nothing wrong. He feels great. Sometimes you come back from an injury and you worry about that. He’s showing no signs that anything’s bothering him. You know, it’s back in terms of really managing it and making the quick decisions. We didn’t do that on Saturday. Again, yesterday was really good. We’ll see how today is. You never know. Right now I didn’t think it was very good, but I didn’t know about yesterday and I came in and I was really excited about it. I think they’re pushing through it. We’re on Day No. 14. It’s been a grind. We had great conditioning after practice today (laughs). You find out what their will power is and how bad they want this thing.”

On Drew Barker wanting to take a hit: “That’s good. I hope he doesn’t take a hit though. Hopefully he’s not going to have to take a hit. I think when you come off, whether you got a ACL or you have a skill guy that has a knee, and the first thing he makes that true cut and gets hit, I think there’s a little hesitation of really ‘is this thing right?’ It’ll be the same thing for him once he does get hit. We’re going right up to him. It’s good stuff. He’s getting banged around a little bit. But you’re right, but if you let somebody go and he gets whacked, but that’s good he wants to.”

On how Gunnar Hoak has performed in camp: “It’s been a good camp but not as consistent as we’d like. Again, he’s working mostly with the 3s. Sometimes that can get frustrating. We know that. But for us at the quarterback position, it’s about target throws and it’s about quick decisions. He’s been good at it and he’s got a lot of room to improve.”

On if anyone has forced their way into the rotation similar to Benny Snell last season: “I think the young receivers are making a push. They’re pushing the older guys. I think we’ve got three or four guys right now that have a chance to get on the plane. This next scrimmage will be huge for them, to see how they react. All the offense is in. We’re not adding anything right now. We’ll see this Saturday with those guys to see if they’re going to be guys that can help contribute. I do foresee some of them, could be in the first game, could be in the fifth game, when you really need them and you’ve got depth. I think that’s when those young guys will come into play.”

On if it’s Isaiah Epps, Josh Ali: “Epps, Ali, Clevan (Thomas), Lynn Bowden. You’ve got JaVonte (Richardson). I think all of them are making a push. We’re not gonna be able to play them all but we’ll see again after this next weekend.”

On if he’s seeing separation at the running back spot: “I think right now you’d say it’s Benny (Snell), it’s Sihiem (King) and it’s A.J. I don’t see a separation there yet. This will be a big week for them. I wasn’t excited about our running back play in this last scrimmage. They know that. They came out Monday and ran like grown men. We can’t dance. We can’t play, we’ve gotta know the situation and we didn’t do that very well on Saturday. But I promise you the last two days they’ve been pretty good.”

On if Benny is actually the best pass-catching running back: “The one thing that we do have is all of them can catch. Benny, he’s pretty good at it. He’s got soft hands, but so does Sihiem and so does A.J. and so does Bryant Koback. They all have good hands, which is good out of the backfield.”

On if coaches were unhappy Saturday because they’re holding players to a higher standard this year: “It’s the same standard. I think the first ones are always good, bad and ugly. The frustrating thing about it for me was that we had some great opportunities. Again, we’re our own worst enemy sometimes. We got to get through that. We can’t do that crap. We’ve got to fix those things. We’re mature enough to make sure that those things don’t happen.”

On what he likes about Naasir Watkins: “Athletically, you can see his athleticism. He’s smart, and, boy, he’s battling through just the hits those big o-linemen take every day. Going half-line run, one-team run then we go to team. They’re getting banged around a lot. I love where he’s at right now. He’s got a chance. He really does.”

On most impressive thing Landon Young did last year: “Understanding the offense and competing. He came out and competed a little bit in terms of just closed his mouth, went to work and took coaching. I think that’s the biggest thing right now with young kids. Are you coachable? He’s a very coachable young man and wants to get better every day.”