Jen Smith on UK Football

Q&A: UK’s Eddie Gran doesn’t see many weaknesses in Florida defense

EDDIE GRAN

On how the Florida defense impresses him: “Really good up front. Their front four and the depth there. They’re really stout at linebacker, have a great secondary. It’s gonna be a a challenge for us. They do a really good job.”

On how to get Sihiem King in space: “Same thing. He’ll get some more touches though in regular situations. We had two coming outs. I put Benny (Snell) in cause coming out you want those hard yards right there. But those are a couple series I should’ve put him in and I told him that. I think for the remainder of the season 70 snaps is too much. You’ll see Sihiem more whether we create something or we just get him more touches.”

On what Florida defensive weakness they can take advantage of: “Well, you know, in this league I don’t see a lot of their weaknesses. We’re gonna have to create some stuff to get some yards whether that be formationally or just coming off and whipping somebody’s tail. This is an SEC game. I look at last year and it wasn’t so hot. It’s about execution. We talked about it last week: Make simple better. The cliché, it’s always about us, and we’re gonna have to finish. We’re gonna have to compete. And we’re doing that right now. We’re playing at a high level, meaning our intensity, we’re giving effort. When you do that you have a chance.”

On if there was a theme in third downs against South Carolina and why they were successful: “You know what, on offense all 11 guys have to do the right thing. We had a chance to actually be incredible 12 out of 16 if we had executed right. You’ve gotta have 11 guys doing the right thing, and on those nine we did. When we didn’t, then now you’ve gotta have some playmakers. One time Stephen, he stood in there and he’s just getting ready to get whacked and he made a great throw to Sihiem. He got open and it all worked out well. Sometimes then you run that again and Sihiem doesn’t get open and he has to hold it half a second later and it’s a sack. You’ve gotta make plays. It’s our money down. Third down is so critical. That allowed us to have a 16-play drive and a 13-play drive back-to-back.”

On why the run defense is so much better: “You know, I think it’s just the maturity. You had guys last year that didn’t play a lot of football that have one more year under their belt. They’re doing a great job. I really do. It was harder this camp to run against our defense. That’s a good thing. Hopefully they’re saying the same thing about us. As you grow and now you’ve been in the same system for a couple of years, you hope those guys mature and they get better.”

On what it allows the offense to do when the defense is playing well: “The great thing about Mark is that Mark never handcuffs me. He’s always talking on the phone and he’s talking about ‘let it eat, do what you guys are doing.’ We’re going to do what we do. I think that in some of those games, like in that first game, I got a little bit stubborn and because I knew where we were and I just believed that you kinda get a feel for that as a play caller, that when the game is in control with the defense then you’ve gotta be smart. But you’ve still gotta get first downs. I think that’s what we did in this game. We didn’t let the foot off the pedal. We kept trying to take chances and threw on first down. That really helped us.”

On if they script plays: “Yes. Yes we do. Every game. Fifteen to 20 plays. A lot of the times it’s maybe giving them different formations maybe that they haven’t seen, maybe different personnel groupings and then that way as we’re charting upstairs, we’re finding out how they’re lining up to certain things.”

On if they script the start of both halves: “First half, but then I have somebody charting and seeing what went well. And then we have stuff for the second half that we didn’t show that we always have prepared.”

On unselfish receivers and who he credits for that attitude: “Right now, Juice (Garrett Johnson) was our player of the game and he made three big plays on third down, but he’s playing unbelievably like coach said, unselfish. He’s down, he’s digging out guys, he’s blocking his tail off. I think they’ve bought in to what we do. And I think we had nine different receivers catch the ball. And that’s this offense. Some guys are going to get more some days and not the next. And the bottom line in this game is this game is not statistics. It’s all about winning.”

On if they need a third running back to emerge here soon: “I would imagine in this long season you would. So we’re still looking for that and we’re still getting better every day. A.J. (Rose) had a good practice today. Bryant Koback is coming on strong.”

On if he saw signs of offensive line starting to jell on Saturday: “Yeah. We kept the same group in there a lot. But you know Mason Wolfe got in there on two long drives and that was huge for us. it’s kind of what happened for us last year as we moved guys in last year we found out that a couple guys could get us 30 snaps. He had 52. That was huge. That was his first real big game in the SEC, so that was encouraging.”

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