At the conclusion of today’s practice, the UK football team officially closed fall camp and now looks towards its Week 1 matchup against the Golden Eagles of Southern Mississippi.
While the defense entered and left the preseason with many question marks, the offense appears to be rock solid, a fact that offensive coordinator Eddie Gran confirmed with the press earlier today when he said that the unit gave him exactly what he wanted out of camp and more.
"Got more in terms of capacity of the install. These guys have done a great job, as I’ve talked about, they’ve got to be a sponge", Gran said.
Gran also praised the intelligence of his offensive line, the willingness of his receivers to do what is asked of them and the steady progress of the quarterbacks and running backs.
However, Gran doesn’t believe that the culture shift has anything to do with him. Instead, he believes that it started at the top with Coach Stoops.
"I think it’s everybody collectively, with Coach Stoops and the culture. He’s said it’s time. It’s time to grow up. It’s time to finish. He’s had a butt load of not, and you got to be accountable. And we’ve held them accountable. We’re going right from the head football coach."
Depth has also helped pushed the offense to improve across the board.
"We have a decent 2-deep on the O-line. John (Schlarman) has done a nice job of moving guys around if you’ve got an emergency situation. So he would put some guys at center, some guys at tackle. And we’ve been able to do that in camp, which you have to do. And, you know, I think the receivers and running back corps have really just pushed each other", Gran said.
The increased depth and competition also means great accountability.
"So, now, if somebody’s not getting it done, or they’re not doing it the right way or they’re not doing it our way, we can pull ‘em. And we can say, ‘Hey, you know what? If you don’t want to do it this way, then we’ll let another guy step up.’ And that’s a good thing."
The real challenge for the team now, said Gran, is for them to fight on when the "crud hits the fan." Gran said he has seen that in practice from his players and now he wants to see it translate to results under the bright lights of Commonwealth Stadium.
- Gran indicated that he and the offensive staff are already preparing for the Golden Eagles. They have watched a decent amount of film and are in the process of scripting the first few series of plays for the game. Quarterback Drew Barker will be consulted on said plays, according to Gran.
- Barker is comfortable in the offense and has toned down his turnovers, but Gran said he would continue to stress to Barker than he needs to take care of the ball so that the possession will not "end with a kick."
- Garrett Johnson’s work summer work ethic impressed Gran. He had this to say about the receiver, "When we left the spring we said he was one of the guys that we needed to have come on this summer, and he worked his tail off. I remember on Saturday’s he’d be in the indoor facility. He was working extra. So, he earned what he’s getting right now."
- Gran said that Kentucky’s tight ends are catching 95 percent of the balls thrown their way in practice.
- Coach Gran isn’t sure if he will work any specific packages in for backup QB Stephen Johnson.