Jen Smith on UK Football

Practice report: On UK’s most consistent player, offensive tackle improvement, running back moves

▪  Offensive tackle consistency: One of the first scrimmages of the spring when the offensive line really started to grow up. At least that’s how junior right tackle Kyle Meadows sees it. Pass protection was bad, run blocking was worse. Offensive line coach John Schlarman made sure they knew it. “He got into us good; it was really bad,” Meadows said. “We took that to heart and ever since then we’ve been focusing on drill after drill after drill.” The work the offensive line — specifically at those tackle spots — has put in has impressed coaches in fall camp. Offensive coordinator Eddie Gran said issues in the spring game like up and unders from the defensive ends and speed rush have been less of an issue this fall. The thing now is developing some depth. Cole Mosier and Meadows seem locked in at the starting tackle spots, but UK is still looking to develop a third tackle. Sophomore George Asafo-Adjei is a possibility and true freshman Landon Young is getting work there as well. “He keeps developing,” Gran said of the former Lafayette star.

▪  ‘He’s our dude’ Wednesday will mark Kentucky’s third two-a-day of fall camp, which means a natural wearing down process for players. Gran was asked if there were any players who had been steady despite the rigors of camp. “Toth for sure,” he said of senior center Jon Toth. “He hasn’t missed a snap, hasn’t missed anything. A couple of our guys have had cramps, gone out and he’s the workhorse. He’s that guy. … He’s our dude.”

▪  On third downs: After video breakdown, Gran seemed pleased with Kentucky’s play in the scrimmage on Saturday. “I loved the third-down conversions we had, kept the ball moving, had a lot of really good competitive catches and throws and really good protection,” he said. The glaring problem, though, was third-and-short, with Gran specifically mentioning UK not converting on a third-and-1. “We can’t not get a third-and-1, that’s ridiculous,” he said. “We have to be 100 percent on that.” The bright side of that, though, is the Cats converted five of their six fourth-down attempts. Gran specifically liked the play of QB Drew Barker. “Drew knew where to go with the ball. I thought we caught the ball well,” he said. “I thought we ran the ball well at the point of attack. We have a long way to go, but it was exciting for the first scrimmage. We’re so far ahead of where we ended spring.”

▪  Running back breakdown: Of the freshmen running backs, Gran said Benny Snell is “really trying to make a move,” and seems to fully understand the playbook. A.J. Rose is still learning, but “talent wise I’m really excited about him.” … Boom Williams, who has been held out of some contact after having offseason elbow surgery, has held up well in drills, Gran said. “He’s getting whacked around. He’s in blitz drill now, everything. We’re just moving forward each day as it goes, and Coach Stoops makes the decision on where we’re going to go with the next step.”

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