Jen Smith on UK Football

Q&A: Gran on offensive development, wide receiver grades, eclipse viewing


On throwing and catching today: “Today pretty good in our seven-on-seven, we were pretty good, pretty efficient. We’ll see when we watch the film. The team stuff, we did a little Southern Miss stuff today, so that was good to see, get a little bit of their stuff full speed. We’ll get a chance to see that also this afternoon.”

On Lynn Bowden’s struggles on Saturday and if that bled over: “I think a lot of that was, was he had camp legs. There’s a guy who didn’t do much with us this summer, came in and after two full weeks, you could see he was dead. You saw today — you weren’t out there for the whole thing — but you could see his legs starting to come back and I believe by next week, he’ll be full go.”

On if loss of Dorian Baker moves Garrett Johnson to outside receiver more exclusively: “We’ll have formations for everything for him. He’ll be an inside guy, an outside guy. We’ll use him both ways.”

On who is next behind Baker: “I think you said it perfect, it is, it’s next man up. Who is that guy? They’re all going to get opportunities and hopefully by the first two or three games you find somebody that takes the job and they say they want it and they prove it out there and they make plays. That’s all it is, it’s about making plays, doing the right things every single time and then making sure they understand this offense and they all do, now it’s about just going out there and executing.”

On freshman wide receivers: “We’re throwing a lot at them and I would say right now, they’re about a ‘B.’ They’re doing a good job and this thing’s getting cut down now every day and I think when they come back and they see it Thursday and Friday, they’ll see, ‘Whoa, this isn’t as hard as I thought.’ So it’s the mentality of you throw it all up there, see what sticks. We now know through all our cutups what we do well, what our quarterbacks do well, what our receivers do well and that’s what we’re going to go into the game plan with.”

On if they’ve accomplished what they wanted in camp: “Yes. We went more quicker. We had a lot we threw at them and we were able to do that because it is the second year in the offense and I thought that they did a pretty good job. Our mental assignments were a lot less in terms of busting, so yeah, we definitely got what we needed to get accomplished.”

On Kayaune Ross camp: “Kayaune’s a big receiver out there. He’s a huge target. I think he’s a guy you can use in red zone. He can box people out; third down, make those contested catches and that’s what he is. We’ve got — Blake’s been doing that, too, over there — so those are the — and Tavin, too — we’ve got to make those contested catches. That’s what we’re looking for, the consistency in the routine plays. So Kayaune is making some improvement there at the ‘X’ (receiver) position.”

On Clevan Thomas: “You know what? He had a couple practices where we was kind of I don’t know about lost, but he was just still learning and then all of the sudden, the light clicked on and he had three practices in a row that were really good. He understands it; he’s getting better and he’s physical when he runs the ball and he loves football.”

On putting more wrinkles, including more wildcat package: “Absolutely, yeah. We’ve extended that tremendously. There’s a lot more there that we’ve been able to do and being able to be in the second year and knowing the base offense, we were able to get into that package a lot earlier than we did last year.”

On how much Southern Miss gets sprinkled in now: “We’ll still do some stuff speed on speed, just like we do good on good always during the season. We’re going to keep the physicality. We’ll always go versus the ones. The good part is there’s some carryover. There’s some carryover with what they do, so when we script, we script plays similar. We can help them and they can help us. We’ll continue to do that all year long.”

On running game: “Well, we’re always going to run the ball. We have to. You have to be physical and that’s who we are. From there, we’ve got to be able to throw it, too, you know? That’s what we’ve really, we’ve worked hard on that. For us to take the next step offensively, we’ve got to be able to throw the ball better in our drawback stuff and I think that we’ve taken that step and we’ll see how it progresses. We’ll know here in about a week and a half.”

On Sihiem King: “From the first scrimmage to the second scrimmage, he improved dramatically, really hitting the holes, not bouncing it around, understanding situations and they’ve got to understand on third down what kind of run it’s gotta be and they have to understand on first down, he can jump cut maybe and he’ll make a guy miss. He, but in his last two practices, has been he looks quick and he’s done really a good job for us.”

On offensive line without Mosier: “You know Coach Schlarman has done a great job of moving guys around. The one thing I talked with you guys about early was how I think our guys are and so we’re able to move guys in different positions. You can go from a guard to a tackle to a center. We’ve put a lot of guys in there. He’s going to have a great rotation and we’ll see as we get going what that rotation is. Who is there? Is it Bunchy at center and then our guard is Nick Haynes and then you’ve got George who can play anything. He’s guard or tackle on both sides. Kyle can flip both sides. That’s a benefit to us. We’ll just see how this thing progresses; we’ll find a group that we like the best then we’ll go with it. There’ll be a lot of them that will have to play. With 13-14 games whatever it may be, those guys are going to have to play and be ready to go when their name’s called.”

On if interchangeable parts is helpful: “iI’s huge. It’s huge because they understand the offense. You can’t lose a beat as you go from tackle to guard and we’re not losing anything. If we’re not losing anything, that’s a really good thing.”

On facing UK’s defense and a leader like Courtney Love: “They do such a — you get into the 20th practice, 22nd practice of camp, they know what we’re doing; they know what we’re doing. And then it just becomes about technique. That’s where the techniques and fundamentals really show up because they know. They know where we’re going and we know where they’re going. We should. And they just make us better every day. Our defense has made us better this fall camp and we’ve worked on a lot of movement and I think that will help us this year.”

On if King has solidified the No. 2 running back spot: “Yeah, he’s No. 2. There’s no doubt about that right now. He’s No. 2.”

On if he likes the change to no two-a-days: “That’s a good question. I think when you get 29 practices, as much as they work now all year round, I think one-a-days is fine. We’re getting a lot of work in our walkthroughs. You can really teach, slow it down. I’ll tell you where that really helps, is it helps with the young guys. I’m a fan of it. I think it’s fine.”

On how much is about good planning: “You do. I think Coach Stoops has done a great job of knowing where they’re at, when to give them a day off, and you have to have one every single week. We did that and there was some that they needed a day off and they got it where we just worked on walkthroughs and just our — we could add situational football at nights — we could go through two-minute, four-minute, last plays of the game and really just get some stuff out of the way. You don’t have to be out here in 90-degree weather and everybody standing around.”

On if he saw eclipse on Monday: “I did. I did. Left the meeting and we got to watch it for about 32 seconds and then that was it. It was fantastic. Couldn’t miss that.”

On if he thought it was going to get darker: “You know, I don’t, I really don’t know. I was just excited to see three-quarters of an eclipse. That was pretty cool.”

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