Jen Smith on UK Football

Q&A: Gran previews ‘huge challenge’ awaiting Kentucky offense at South Carolina


On best thing he saw on EKU tape and worst thing he saw on EKU tape: “I think the best thing we saw is that we executed. We got a little bit better on third down. We were one-for-one in the red zone. We were efficient in running the ball. The worst thing I saw is that we were our own worse enemy. We got to take care of the bad snaps; we’ve got to take care of the penalties. We do that and we’ve got a chance. We really do. Our whole mindset this week is ‘make simple better.’ And if we’ll make simple better then we’ve got a chance this weekend. We have to do that.”

On wildcat offense: “We’ll see how it goes. It will always be in the game plan. It just depends on how people are defending it. But it’s always in the game plan.”

On the South Carolina defense: “They’re definitely better than they were last year. A lot of those guys were young and Will’s done a great job of getting those guys doing the right things ant the right time. He mixes things up; he’s never going to make you feel comfortable. So it’s a huge challenge for us. It’s SEC on the road. It doesn’t get any better than that. But they’ve got a really good defense and we’re going to have to do a great job of protecting the football. First downs are going to be tough. We’re going to have to be tough and make sure our defense stays off the field. They do a great job in the red zone. We’ve got to make sure we get seven points when we’re down there.”

On Landon Young’s play: “Landon has done a good job. He works on what we ask him to work on every day. He’s very coachable. He’s working on — everything with the offensive linemen is pad level. Pad level in the run game and you’ve got to have great technique when you get speed rushers like we’re going to get this week. The guy’s off the edge, you’ve got to be right, especially when it’s loud.”

On getting young running backs to pick up the blitzes: “They picked it up, but the technique wasn’t very good. We got knocked back into the quarterback and that’s all technique, getting a better base, anticipating. The good part about that is we were on the right guys. We just didn’t do a very good job of executing and finishing. We’ve got to be able to finish.”

On what Rose needs to do to get more snaps: “Continue to do what he’s supposed to do every single day in practice where I can trust him. And he had two great practices in a row.”

On Sihiem King: “He had a really good game, best technique grade he’s had since he’s been here. He’s running tough, hard-nosed and you can see he can make you miss in space. That’s what he brings to the table. He had a couple blitz pickups and did a great job, ended up on the right guy and ended up blocking him. That was encouraging also.”

On if he leans on older guys in this environment or if freshmen can contribute: “I think you do. You’ve got some freshmen who are going to be out there and it’s going to be totally different than it was at Southern Miss. It’s going to be loud. It kind of reminds me last night when I got home, I watched the Broncos. First play of the game, the Chargers are getting a penalty because of the time running out. They’re not communicating. They’re not up there fast going. That’s what we’ve got to stay away from. Weather the storm, match their intensity and at the end of the day, it’s another game. We’ve got to make sure we do what we do and we’re disciplined.”

On Blake Bone stepping up: “It was really good. Coach (Stoops) talked a little bit about consistency from those guys. That’s kinda what we’ve been doing. I think Blake made a couple of great catches. I alluded to last week that in practice he made a couple of big time catches. That carried over into the game and that’s what has to happen.”

On if there’s a benefit of no other teams seeing Lynn Bowden: “Yeah, I mean he’s got stuff – he was in the game. He ran a great route when he had that penalty. He’s going to have opportunities to catch the football in the game. You look at Kayaune Ross and you look at Blake Bone, they both had about 40 snaps each. When the time came it came to Blake. When Kayaune is in there he’s gotta make the play. When Lynn is in there he’s going to have his opportunities. It’ll be fun to see him in that environment and get some opportunities. Hopefully we get the ball in his hands.”

On how Bowden is practicing: “This week so far it’s been really good. Obviously you have different wrinkles each week. Tuesdays are a little bit rough on young guys because you do add new stuff. Tomorrow will be another day for him because we add new stuff on third down and red zone. He’s gotta get in the film room and he’s gotta study it. Guys out there, you win the game on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. That’s what we keep preaching so Saturday will be easy.”

On if the players know how much they have to study: “Yeah, you know, because of the 20 hour rule – we kinda had to not necessarily have class, but teach them how to. When you come in on your own, how to watch film and what you’re really looking for. They have to take it upon themselves. With Hudl and so forth they can get it on their IPads. They go home and they’re able to watch it and study their opponent, especially personnel. Running backs go back and study the linebackers, how they’re blitzing. Are they bull rushers or are they guys that make a move. Are they pull guys? That’s what they’re having to do, especially when they’re limited.”

On if they’ll pipe noise into practices: “Absolutely. We’ll have a couple of days of loud noise and get it to where they can’t hear. Now they’ve gotta communicate like that. Make it a 40 second clock, just like the game. We’ll try to make it as loud as we can. Usually we can’t hear. We can’t talk. We’ll try to make it as real as possible.”

On if they’ll have a similar strategy with Barker and Johnson this week: “I can’t tell you that. That’s a good question though.”

On what he’s looking for from his offense this week: “Clean football. We talked this week about making simple better. What does that mean? Well, when you snap the ball to the quarterback it’s perfect. The snap count is a certain snap count and you stay on side. We don’t hold. We use our technique. It just really comes down to making simple better. If we’ll do that, we’ll have a chance. You can’t go on the road and have turnovers, you can’t have people jumping offsides and it’s 1st and 15. We did that twice on opening drives and you just can’t do that. You can’t afford it.”