As the media assembled for another routine session of post-practice interviews, the quiet gathering was disturbed by a raucous crowd of Kentucky football players. They did not sound like a team that just lost 45-7.
“It was good energy level. It was a really good start yesterday to practice,” offensive coordinator Eddie Gran said. “I’m really excited about today. They came out and really worked on the theme: focus, detail, execute, (offensively especially) that every play matters. Every single play matters.”
Following the loss, we heard Vince Marrow raising hell in the locker room and saw social media post from disgruntled players. After yesterday’s team meeting, it all has been put in the past. Quarterback Stephen Johnson said everyone is back on track.
“Everybody’s on the same page. We don’t want that feeling ever again or losing. We’re all really clicking, trying to get back to our standards to what our coaches and what we’ve put on ourselves to do.”
Benny Snell echoed Johnson’s sentiment. “Guys have just been taking things more serious. Practice has been more serious and things have been how they should’ve been.”
The feeling of gloom and doom that filled the air around the team is now absent. Johnson continuously snapped his fingers during his interview, anxious for redemption. “We want to go out there and correct our mistakes and win another football game.”
There aren’t many positives to take away from Saturday’s loss, but you can say it definitely woke up this Kentucky football team.
“You better be woken up,” Gran said. “There’s good pride and bad pride. After 31 years, I’ve been bloodied before and been down on the ground. You’ve gotta pick yourself back up and have a great attitude the next day. Coach [Stoops] talked about it, ‘Attitudes are contagious, is yours worth catching?’
“If you don’t have a good attitude and you want to go out there and get ready for another war, you’re in the wrong business. You don’t need to be playing Saturday night. I think they got that message. We got that message. You’ve gotta go to the next one. I’m thankful we’ve got another one, I really am.”
Marrow Explains the Postgame Locker Room
If you watched Mark Stoops’ postgame comments, you heard Vince Marrow fire off quite a few expletives in the room adjacent to the press room. Marrow described it as “business as usual” in a locker room after a loss.
Vince Marrow explains what happened in the locker room after Saturday’s loss at Miss. State pic.twitter.com/dZhSZN7kmo
– Nick Roush (@RoushKSR) October 24, 2017
Landon Young Returned to Practice
Coaches feared the worst when an awkward hit took Kentucky’s left tackle to the Starkville turf. Luckily, tests revealed no serious injury. Treatment improved his condition enough to return to practice today and he expects to play Saturday.
Drake Jackson Looks Like Landon
Drake Jackson played every snap in his first game as Kentucky’s starting center. He gave up a few quarterback pressures due to technical missteps, but overall, Gran and John Schlarman are excited to see Jackson’s continued progress.
“The good part of it is it’s fixable. It’s technique,” Gran said. “He competes. He knows what to do for the most part. I think he’s kind of in the same shoes as Landon was last year. As Landon went, he grew, I think Drake is growing too.”
How Eddie Gran Handles Criticism
Simply put, he doesn’t listen to it. He only hears it from little birdies on the street.
“First of all, I read nothing that you write. I am so sorry,” he told the media with his tongue in his cheek. “I don’t read a blog. If I hear something bad about me, somebody comes from the street or something like that. They might flip me off or whatever, I don’t know.
“I don’t worry about that. I really don’t. We can score 50, and we didn’t run the ball enough. We could score 30, and we didn’t pass the ball enough. You know what, it is what it is. My job is to get this offense ready to go and score more points than the defense each and every week. I’m going to do that my best. That’s my job.”
Progress from A.J. Rose
Running back A.J. Rose saw less than a handful of plays against EKU. After a few mistakes, he did not return to the field until the game got out of hand in Starkville. Gran was pleased to see progress from the redshirt freshman running back.
“He did some things that got me excited. The biggest thing, he had two blitz pick-ups, he was perfect. That was awesome to see for him. That was improvement from the last time he was in a game and that’s what you want to see.”
A Recipe for a Successful Run Game
During Mark Stoops’ Monday rounds with the media, he persistently pushed the need for Kentucky to be able to run the ball. They have been inconsistent, but Gran believes they aren’t far off from rediscovering success on the ground.
“The recipe is perfect alignment, perfect assignment, perfect footwork. We did some things in the game everywhere that we reverted back to day one or two. You’re correcting those steps and those fundamentals and you cannot do that, not in this league. This is the big boy league. You gotta compete, you gotta get after it and we’ve gotta be right every time.
“Everybody’s taking ownership of it, coaches, us as a staff and we’re coaching team harder and we’re making sure that detail and focus is there. It started out there yesterday and we had another good one today. That’s how it gets fixed, there’s no magical recipe for it.”