Thursday, March 31, 2016

Transcript: UK Football Offensive Coordinator Eddie Gran on Spring Progress

On how practice was today: “We were inconsistent today. We weren’t as good as we need to be. There’s no excuse for that. On offense you have to be consistent. We have to be better on first down efficiency. We’re throwing on third downs, we’re on red zones, so we’re getting all of the situations. In the scrimmage last week we were really good on third down. Here, I think we were probably a little bit less today on third down. We’ll see when we go in there and we chart it. Just from what I remember it wasn’t consistent enough.”

If inconsistency is mental at this point: “Absolutely. They’re giving great effort. They’re competing, they’re having fun. But now it becomes just the mental part of it. It’s all in now. We didn’t install anything today so there’s no more excuses. Game’s over. It’s time for you to learn it and it’s time for you now—this is where technique takes place. If you want to win outside as a receiver, up front, it’s all about technique. Perfect steps, know where to go and do it fast.”

On Drew Barker: “Today was inconsistent. If you look at that scrimmage he was five for five. He led, did everything you ask a quarterback to do. Then you come back today and not so good. Threw too many interceptions. If he throws an interception and he comes back, coach Hinshaw did a great job today of getting him to recover. That’s what our quarterback has to do. I did see some good things, but we’re going to stay on him. Those guys have to be great. They just can’t be average. They can’t be inconsistent. If they’re inconsistent then we’re in trouble.”

On Mikel Horton saying everyone had a fair chance and if that’s changed some attitudes: “I don’t think there’s any question. Again, I wasn’t here last year or anything like that, but I don’t have any issues with my group. You can see as we’ve moved (Ryan) Timmons around a little bit and he’s pushing other guys. I told him after today that the depth chart can change going into Saturday. Everyday you have to compete. That’s how we’ll be great and continue to get better.”

On if Timmons could see time in the backfield: “Not right now. Right now we have two more freshmen coming in. I’m going to have a pretty good stable back there.”

On what he’s seen from Mikel and who he reminds him of: “He runs a little tall sometimes. You’d like to get his pad level down, but Deuce McAllister ran tall. And I’m not comparing him to Deuce right now, but I’m just telling you in terms of one of his characteristics that he does is he runs tall. He has to drop his pads more because he weighs 225 pounds. What I do like is he’s finishing things. When things aren’t there, it’s second down and six, to me that’s a back that is going forward. That’s a back that has good leg drive. Second down and six is a much better call than second down and 10 and second down and nine. Our efficiency runs we have to be over 55 percent on first down, four yards or better.”

On Darin Hinshaw expressing a need for accuracy: “Two-fold there. One, yes, you have to be accurate. They can be better at that. But second, if the ball is right here, catch the ball. That’s the consistency part. It’s not going to be perfect from the quarterbacks. Those guys have to earn their scholarships too.”

On how it helps the running backs to know every part of the offense: “They know what the quarterback is thinking on protection and they can see rotations, and they understand, then there job is going to be easier. Pre-snap, post-snap, everything. I think it’s important for everybody to know. I know when Coach Hinshaw is coaching and someone does something wrong, he’s letting them know because he’s not the only kid getting chewed. I think it helps him to understand when guys aren’t doing the right things. But for them to know what the quarterback is thinking, especially in blitz and the run game, if they know how to block and how everything is supposed to be done, I think they just become better backs.”

On if there’s extra pressure on RBs to know more in his system: “Absolutely. Absolutely. And they know that. I told them from the get-go. And they like it. Most days they like it.”

On making off-field activities competitive: “Just in the classroom, whether or not you got study hall hours, who’s gonna go this week without doing a tutor, and make it competitive. Put it on paper and show ‘em. But that’s part of the culture, that’s part of the stuff that’s happening as a team anyway from the head football coach. I just try to get it to another level inside, you know? Let’s whip the defense today as a group offensively. Let’s be better. That’s who we’re competing against right now. Let’s have the least amount of anything. Let’s be perfect. Just try to keep it at a competitive level, everything you do.

On what he does specifically to teach ball security: “Emphasizing it, I don’t talk about turnovers. I just talk about ball security, how you handle it every single day. We talk about the points of pressure, we talk about the wrist above the elbow, high and tight. When you’re in trouble, double. Lock that thing right there and reduce the surface. We give ‘em little key points and they’re getting hammered in the meeting if I see any air. You just got to go to where it becomes a habit. When he makes a cut, I’m not into switching the ball. You don’t switch the ball in traffic. You learn how to give a shoulder boom, go near leg, near shoulder with the ball in your hand. You learn how to do that when you get stuck. Those are things we’re honing in on.”

On if he slows film down to show RBs when they’re holding ball too far from body: “Yes I do. Yes I do. (On if that makes for a long meeting.) “No, I go fast. But not during the slow-mo.”

On where offense is now that installs are complete: ”I think they’re a little ahead right now. Saturday will be a great test for us, because you’ve got the five installs – and we’ve got some miscellaneous stuff that we’re gonna put in to try to do some stuff to try to help our defense, to help us to see if our guys can do that. But the meat of the offense is in, so now you’re gonna have some short-yardage stuff, now you’re gonna have some situations where you’re in the red zone. Our red zone package last week – we didn’t have one. They didn’t have red zone defense. We were just playing. But now you have red zone offense, red zone defense. Now windows become tighter. You got to play down there now. You got to understand the situations. So I’m excited about them, excited to see where we’re at. I think they’ll play with great energy and great competitiveness, but now I want to see if, when the bullets are flying, we don’t know it’s blitz and they bring it, are we gonna protect, are we gonna make plays?”

On if there’s back and forth between offense and defense to give each other different looks: “That’s right. And if they have it in, (Eliot will) run it and vice versa. If they need a personnel and they need to see this run, then we’ll run it. We’ll do whatever they need. That’s the great thing about spring ball. It’s the great thing about working with each other. You got to be able to bend like that. You got to be able to do that. If our quarterback’s seen a certain coverage against this route all the time, ‘Hey, D.J., I need one high this time.’ Boom, no problem. He changes it and we go. That’s a good part about having a relationship.”

On yelling at a RB last Saturday near the red zone, how they respond to that: “Next time he’ll put his pads down and go score. Here’s the deal about red zone: When you get inside the 5-yard line, we can not block everybody. The numbers aren’t right. You can not. There’s always one guy. That’s the running back’s guy, and if you want to play in this offense and you want to be the starting guy and you want to have a lot of touchdowns, then you better learn how to drop pad and you better be able to get profile tackle and take a guy in the endzone for two or three yards. If you can’t do that then you will not play when we get to the red zone.”

On if he’s as comfortable at Kentucky as he sounds: “You know what, the last three years have been the best thing for me, in terms of just learning, coordinating. Like we talked about before, when Mark (Stoops) maybe making a change before, I wasn’t ready. I’m ready. It was a lot of learning. I mean, I made a lot of mistakes, still going to make them, still going to make them, but it does, it feels more comfortable.”

On if he feels better about himself as a coach: “Yes, yes. Absolutely. You learn a lot when you’re calling plays for the first time and the bullets start flying, you talk about your players, I’m going to tell you now, it’s something different. You’re in no huddle and you get a first down on the 18-yard line and you have to get a play called, I mean, it happens fast and some of them, I’ve done really good at and some of them, I’ve done really bad at. Hopefully I can learn from that and when that situation comes up again, man, I’m going to be ‘Boom. Boom. Boom. Boom.’”

On evaluating progress in offense versus defense; offense excelling versus defense messing up: “That’s a good question. I think what you look for is when guys are going; and like today, it wasn’t the greatest on offense in terms of the execution all the time, but you saw guys … We’d throw one down the field on a one-on-one matchup and our guy caught it. On a contested catch, boom, you gain 35 yards. Then two plays later, the DB, I mean right at the last second, there’s competitiveness and they’re competitive plays. There’s not a guy just wide open. That’s easy. We want to make those tough ones when the quarterback’s got to step up. That’s kind of how I’m engaging it, seeing when things go bad, how are they reacting? And that’s when I’ve been excited about them, learning how to recover. Gotta have a short-term memory. Man, I’m playing (play) No. 5 and if you mess up, there are 75 more plays left. Let’s go. I told them, ‘Watch me on Saturday, guys. I’m going to stress you from Sunday to Friday. It’s going to be as hard as it can be, but on Saturday, you’re going to see me like this’ (runs hand in a straight horizontal line). I’m never going to get too high; I’m never going to get too low. I think that’s important. I think it’s important for our players to know that and see that. I didn’t yell at one person on Saturday. Not one person.”

On if that’s a conscious decision: “Absolutely. I’ve learned. I’ve learned it from other coordinators. I’ve watched how other coordinators have coordinated. Coach Peterson at Washington, who was at Boise, that was a big philosophy for him: Stress your quarterbacks, stress your players. Go. Tempo. So Saturday should be easy. I asked my running backs, ‘What’d you think about Saturday?’ And they said, ‘Man, Coach, that was easy.’ And it should be. It should be easier now. You slow it down, you bring them in. They should know what to do by then. If they don’t, that’s on us. So don’t get mad at them if they screw up, that’s on us. Know what to do, feel comfortable in it and then get them cranked up. It’s my job to get them -- if they do something wrong, don’t go over and rip the kid, he feels bad enough. That’s practice. In the game, fix it and move on.”

On if it’s tough not to yell at a player on Saturday: “No. I’ve got to go to the next play; and that’s some of the things I’ve learned. I’m watching, we get a 40-yard pass and we get to the 5-yard line and I’m whooping and hollering, ‘Yeah, this is great.’ But now things have changed for me. I’ve got a goal-line package to run; you’ve got new personnel you’ve got to get in there. So I’ve learned. Coach Tuberville did a good job with me, to help me understand that hey, you can’t watch the game. Lane Kiffin, being around Bobby Petrino, being around those guys and watching how they — and then we all three have different styles.”

On if he says something in a player’s ear coming off the field on a Saturday: “Yes, but it’s not going to be where, I’m not going to tear him up like I might in practice, but it’s a tough love, now. I’m not cussing the kid or anything like that. I’m going to make him better. But if he puts the ball on the ground or something, on Saturday, I’m going go and tap him on the rear end and say, ‘Hey, we gotta go.’ At least I try. It’s not going to be perfect, but that’s how they should see me on game day. They don’t need a guy who’s calling the plays out of control and if we get down by two touchdowns, panicking. You don’t want your offense like that. You want your offense to say, ‘OK. Let’s pull our heads out of our rear ends, let’s pull together, let’s call better plays. Let’s execute and let’s go score and get our defense back in this game.’ With our offense, you’d like to think it’s a down the field, explosive offense. That if you do recover, that we can score quickly, especially in up-tempo.”

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