Jen Smith on UK Football

‘We couldn’t hear today. I couldn’t talk.’ How Kentucky’s embracing the noise.


On matchup with Mississippi State DT Jeffery Simmons: “Well, we’re going to have to do a great job. When you play against a great player and a great front like this, you’re going to have to have technique and fundamentals. You’ve got to be able to take your protection and make sure you help your center on some stuff. We’ll be ready to do that.”

On how much they tweaked during bye week: “Yeah, you go back to your self scout for your first six games and you look at that and you see what you’ve done well. You try to expand on that and dress it up a little bit with different formations and different personnel. The stuff that wasn’t so good, you find out why. Is it personnel? Is it just technique? Is it fundamentals? Can it be fixed? And if it’s not, it’s out. Then you go to your bank and you find stuff that you have not done and you add. So we picked up a couple days, so there’s some stuff, some new wrinkles that we have, and stuff that looks good after tomorrow will be added.”

On if he would be worried about seeing new stuff from an opponent coming off a bye: “Yeah, you always do. Like Missouri, for example. They came off, and yeah I was worried about new stuff. Your guys got to be ready, especially on blitzes and different things like that. So you hope that your scheme handles most of it, but it changes when you go out there and it’s going live. Hopefully at halftime you can make any adjustments if there’s something that you haven’t seen that you have to get fixed.”

On if Todd Grantham has changed from Louisville to Mississippi State: “A lot of the same concepts, a lot of the same stuff that he does. He does a great job. Those kids know where to go. They’re playing hard. I think they’re first in the country at not giving up first downs, the least amount of first downs. You look at their statistics, and they’re stingy. So, it is a lot the same. He’s not going to change overnight just because he’s got different guys. Their personnel matches a lot with what Louisville was. They’re really good, they fly around and they’re physical.”

On if the offense will see edge pressure similar to Florida and Eastern Michigan: “Yeah, I don’t know — that was more fundamentals. When you say pressure, pressure to me is when they’re blitzing. They’ve got their guys. They’ve got their rushers. We’re going to have to be really good and be able to get the ball out.”

On Mississippi State not allowing many first downs: “They’re going to stop the run. They’re going to do a good job. They’re going to have guys up in the box. Their safeties fill. They’re going to stop the run first and after that you’ve gotta be efficient on throwing the ball when you do throw it. You have to be efficient. You get behind the chains on these guys and you’re going to have some problems. We’ve gotta do a great job of staying ahead of the chains in this game.”

On if he missed the cowbells when he wasn’t in the SEC: “It’s been a long time since I’ve been there. We had the cowbells going today. It brought back a lot of memories. The four years at Ole Miss. It’s a great venue to play at. It’s loud and their fans are passionate.”

On what he tells the team about the atmosphere: “We couldn’t hear today. I couldn’t talk. You just let them play. This is how it’s going to be. There’s going to be times when you can’t hear. It’s not going to be like that the whole time like it was today at practice. You’ve gotta really communicate. If you can’t communicate on the road you’ve got no chance. That’s what today was about. Today was about communicating and seeing formation changes. Guys getting on and off the field in a good time. I really liked what I saw today.”

On Drake Jackson and the offensive line coming together: “Yeah. He competes. He’s got a little bit of time under him. With reps, you can’t simulate that out here. Him getting in the game, I think he’ll keep getting better every week just like Landon (Young) did last year.”

On Garrett Johnson’s performance compared to his expectations: “We talked about that yesterday, as a matter of fact. I think people are noticing him. Everything he’s doing. Backside blocking downfield, he’s really bought into what’s going on. Been a great leader. His practice habits are different. I’m really excited about where Juice has come and how far he’s come in his leadership and so forth. Just little things like backside blocks. It might be all the way over here and he’s in someone’s grill and he’s working hard.”

On two-minute drill lessons: “I think as a play caller, you look at what they do in two minute and Coach Hinshaw and the staff has put together some good plans for that and at the end of the day, it’s about what we do out here every single Wednesday. It’s live. We’ve got the time clock going and we’re trying to put them in those pressure situations so when you do get to that moment, it’s not so much pressure. Now you let your fundamentals take over, your technique and you can do your job. I think those situations coach puts us into, those high pressure situations, they’re not as high pressure.”

On if he likes mentality of embracing going on the road: “I do. And that stems from the head coach. It’s really all you’ve got. You go, you get on that bus, you get on that plane, it’s you’re going down there, it’s a hostile environment. But that’s why you play in this league, that’s why you play football, for the opportunities to go on the road and come out with a victory.”