Kentucky offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson met with the media to preview the upcoming Louisville game. He discussed Drew Barker’s progess, UK’s running game and more. Here’s the full transcript:
On how Drew Barker graded out vs. Charlotte: "I thought he graded out well. He did a really good job of two things, in my opinion. Third and medium was an emphasis for us. Just sitting in the pocket, triggering it, and he did it. I thought he did a good job there, and then when things broke down, he did a good job of keeping the play alive and improvising. A couple times, it was good to see. We didn't throw it a whole lot. I think we threw it 25 or so times the first half. And we probably ran 26, threw it 25. I think that's what the numbers were. In the second half, obviously we didn't throw it – maybe two or three times. But we wanted to throw it a little bit in the first half and we did. It was tough conditions to throw in. It was tough conditions."
On if he anticipates throwing more this week: "I mean, dependent on the conditions. If conditions are like that you gotta be able to grind it out, you know? And it really depends on what they do defensively. People will typically come out and have a mentality they're going to do defensively. We have to adjust to that. If they're playing us in an aggressive way, we'll probably throw it more. But we're running the ball really well, so we can't ever abandon that."
On if he learned anything about this rivalry since he came to UK: "Did I learn anything? It's a heated rivalry. Typically everywhere you coach, there's one. This is it. It means a whole lot, obviously, to the state and to the people on each team. But what I do know about rivalries from the past is that all that's over after play one. You got to play ball. I don't really take too much into that, to be honest with you. After the first couple plays that's over. You just got to execute."
On if he has to watch Barker closer this week as an inexperienced QB playing for high stakes: "No, we're just gonna play ball. He's pretty loose out there. We're just gonna go with what we see."
On if they found combinations on the offensive line that they liked better last week: "In the past? In this past game? We just rolled them in, to be honest with you. It's been the same rotation. There's times when there's a whole different combination of the five out there. To me, I don't even pay attention to who's out there. Coach (John) Schlarman does a good job rotating those guys, and I'm just calling plays based on what we're doing good. Hopefully what we're doing good. At times."
On if he anticipates playing Jacob Hyde at fullback more: "Yeah. Yeah. I do anticipate it."
On what stood out about the running backs last week: "Long runs. Like to see that. And even in the Vanderbilt game, I told Boom (Williams), I said, 'You ain't got to leave it one yard short. You can run it all the way in.' There's no use running it down there from 70 yards out, you know? So, I mean just explosive runs. We had a lot of explosive runs. So, I think that’s a combination of obviously the running backs doing a great job – I thought we were really patient at running back, really pressing the hole, not just seeing the hole, hitting the hole. I hear Chad (Scott) say that all the time, but he does a great job with those guys and they were really patient, they let everything develop and they stretched the defense the right way. Typically when you’re doing that you’re going to create some holes."
On Louisville’s defense: "Very athletic. As far as up front around the ball, do a really good job of getting pressure on the quarterback. They really do. They’re really active up front. They do a lot. They do a lot of twists, a lot of movement. I mean, obviously no different than every week in our league we’ve got our hands full. It seems like every week we’re facing a top-20 defense in America, and so this is no different. I think they’re 14th. If we’re not used to this by now, then you’re crazy. That’s been every week for us."
On Mark Stoops being complimentary of Louisville’s relatively inexperienced secondary: "They did lose a lot of guys obviously, but I do think that when you have a front like theirs that gets a lot of pressure their secondary doesn’t get tested a whole lot. Those two definitely work together."
On if he thinks Barker looks forward to the challenge of facing that pressure: "I hoping he handles it really well. We’ll see. Yeah, he does. He definitely does. He’s got a great look in his eye, and he’s a competitive kid. So, he’s ready."
On if any of the young players who say extended snaps against Charlotte stood out: "You know, I thought the one kid that hadn’t played a lot that did well was Sihiem (King). He got in there and did a lot of good things. There was a lot of those young linemen -- I was pleased with they’re effort getting in there. I’m not going to say anybody’s names, their I don’t want to…But I was pleased with some of those o-linemen that hadn’t played a lot. They got in and really played really aggressive. That was great to see. Other than that, we didn’t throw the ball any or anything, so that was a wash."
On how much the win helped the mood of the team: "I think that they’re probably going to face this week the same if they were any record, because I think that’s just this game. But I think the ability to play a team that you should take care of business on and do it is good. Obviously not saying anything about our opponents, but there’s been a couple times throughout the year that we had a chance to do that and we didn’t. So, that was a positive."