Jen Smith on UK Football

Has Kentucky’s offense had a game this season where it was physical enough?

EDDIE GRAN

On film from Eastern Michigan game: “Need to be more physical, No. 1. No. 2, the execution part at times was good, we moved the ball, and at other times it wasn’t. They know that. They saw it. Had some great video of stuff we did at practice and what we didn’t do in the game. They understand that, and really it comes down to just being physical. Got to be better at pass protection. Got to be better — you asked the question, ‘What was it?’ There was some where it was pass protection, got beat on some one-on-ones, and then there was times where we got to get the ball and rip it and go and make the decisions quicker. That’s where were at right now, and really good day today. Really excited about how they came out today and practiced.”

On if there’s a game where he’s seen offense be physical enough: “Yes, I do. I thought we were really physical in the second half of the South Carolina game, and I thought we were physical in the Florida game. I really did. You go against teams like that, and there’s going to be some good, bad and ugly always and there just wasn’t so many ugly. Here, we needed to be physical every snap, and I didn’t think we were. And they didn’t think they were either. They know. It was a good lesson to be learned.”

On if deep ball between Stephen Johnson and Isaiah Epps is a work in progress: “Well, the guy got held all the way down the field. It would have been really nice if he’d have gotten released there, because it would have been nice to see us hit a post. So, work in progress always. The alert post that we have, we haven’t been able to hit one of those. We’ve had two PIs. That’s good, that means we’re getting behind them, but it would be nice to connect on a couple of those. We kind of started that. At the end of last year we really started to hit the long ball, so we need to absolutely do that for an explosive play.”

On if Isaiah Epps has a similar skillset to Jeff Badet: “I think he’s got a chance to. Absolutely. He definitely has the speed. Can take the top off like Jeff did. Him being a freshman, he had one route I know coach alluded to and he’s sick about it. We talk about just being slow. He had a route where he had to be slow and he’s going to catch his first touchdown. He’s going fast and he cuts off the wrong foot and he falls down. He’ll learn from that. He really will. I think he’ll be better when he goes down the stretch here.”

On preparing for a team that had a defensive coordinator terminated: “Just like any other week. Barry does a great job. Coach Odom, I’ve known him from back in my days at Cincinnati and he was at Memphis. He does a great job. In situations like that, they’re going to rally and I guarantee ya they’re going to play their rear end off. We’re going to have to play a really good football game for us to do what we need to do. And again, it’s cliche and you guys don’t want to hear it, but this is about us on offense. Being physical, executing and doing our job. That’s what we have to do.”

On if they can take anything from the Missouri game last year: “Yeah, you know, different team, we’re a different offense, meaning we’re a little bit different up front. We’re a little bit different everywhere. And again, you see what they give you. What’s going to work? Are they aligned to certain things? Again, coming off the ball, staying on blocks and finishing. Being better on the perimeter. When I’m talking about being physical I’m also talking about the running backs. I’m also talking about our receivers on the perimeter. We had some opportunities to get the ball out there and we didn’t do a good job on the perimeter. Four plays later they’re crushing them out there. So, we’ve gotta be better everywhere physically for us to get the run game where everybody wants it to be.”

On new playmakers: “When we first put this offense in that was the thing, you really have to be humble. You’ve gotta sometimes wait your turn. One game against South Carolina we had nine different people touch the ball. That’s what this offense allows. I think everybody has bought into that. The pride on our sideline is phenomenal. They’re being very encouraging. You never know when it’s your time. You’ve got to make sure when it’s your time, you produce.”

On guys losing focus on sideline: “It was handled on the sideline right when it happened. I handled it. We moved forward.”

On how close is he on offensive line cohesiveness: “Right now. We’re there. That’s what I think. I think we’re still going to have different guys go in and out. We’re going to have guys that are going to have to spell guys, you know? But I think we’ve got a good lineup that we’re going to feel good about. We’ll go with that and as guys get tired or we feel like they need a break, we’ll give them a break.”

On getting guys subbed in and out with different guys banged up: “Yeah. You really do. Coach Stoops does a great job of that during the week as he talks to Jim (Madaleno) in who needs a little break and where they’re at. This is a critical time right now, but you let everything go right now. We’ve got a bye week after this. That gas tank’s gotta be full Saturday night at 7:30. Period. The end. I don’t care how tired you are. I don’t care what bumps and bruises you have; this is football, we’ve gotta go.”

On what Stoops’ “emptying the tank” metaphor means to Gran: “That’s right. It’s full right now. It’s full. It’s gotta be empty when we leave.”

On if Stephen Johnson was full go on Tuesday for practice: “Yeah. Great practice, did a nice job.”

On how much retooling he plans to do during the bye week considering how much they had to do last season out of necessity during bye week: “Lot of wrenches, lot of hammers. … The toolbox will out. But hopefully there’s not a lot. Hopefully after this week, we can settle down, we can execute and do right and be efficient and we can get better from there. I don’t want the toolbox out and we have to reinvent the wheel. That’s not fun. There’s no panic. We’re close. We were close at this time last year and it all came together and so I’m excited about their response this week.”

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