Jen Smith on UK Football

Will UK’s offense feel a need for speed?

UK coach Mark Stoops and offensive coordinator Eddie Gran spoke during the UK kickoff luncheon at Commonwealth Stadium on Friday July 29, 2016 in Lexington, Ky.
UK coach Mark Stoops and offensive coordinator Eddie Gran spoke during the UK kickoff luncheon at Commonwealth Stadium on Friday July 29, 2016 in Lexington, Ky. mcornelison@herald-leader.com

Apparently head coach for offense Eddie Gran takes the Secretariat silks on Kentucky’s uniforms quite literally. When asked at the annual kickoff luncheon on Friday how fast he wanted the offense to go, the Cats offensive coordinator smiled.

“As fast as we can go right out of the gate,” he said.

A few seconds later, head coach Mark Stoops chimed in: “As fast as we can go as long as we’re getting first downs and points.”

It’s seemingly been a sticking point for Stoops and offensive coordinators since he arrived at Kentucky. Three and outs plagued the Cats and at times doomed the defense.

That concept didn’t seem lost on Gran either.

“It’s critical to understand the game and where we’re at,” he added. “We like to dictate to the defense and not them to us. We can go fast and we are going to go fast. When we need to slow it down we’ll slow it down.”

It was a carryover from a discussion the two coaches had on the stage at the Galt House a day before speaking to a different fan group at a similar luncheon in Louisville.

Apparently as the men ate lunch, one fan at their table noted how much he loved the speedy offenses run by Darin Hinshaw and Gran at Cincinnati the past few seasons.

“Well, I do, too, but we play in a different league,” Stoops joked with the fan.

Before he hired Gran and Hinshaw, Stoops watched film and noticed how the Bearcats moved the ball “all over the place.”

Watching the film, though, Stoops thought: “You’re not going to get that in this league. People don’t understand that. There’s no space. The d-linemen come at you. Big monsters that try to make you throw into windows and there’s people all over you.”

“You have to create your own space; you have to make plays and that comes from us.”

Because of the coaches he’s served under in the past, Gran said he tends to have a defensive mentality as a play caller.

“I do understand, especially in this league and conference that you have to slow it down sometimes, too,” Gran said. “It’s all going to depend on what’s happening on that side of the ball, too.

“We want to go fast because we want to spread the field and we want to dictate to some of those defenses. … If we can do that and dictate by tempo, we will. But if we have to slow it down, we’ll slow it down, too.”

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