Terry Wilson’s season-ending injury against Eastern Michigan put offensive coordinator Eddie Gran in a situation he faced in his first year at Kentucky. Unlike Drew Barker’s injury in 2016, Gran’s offense is much more prepared to weather the storm.
“I think we were a little bit further behind at that time in what we were doing,” Gran said after Tuesday’s practice. “We put a lot in this fall camp. The good part about where Sawyer is right now, we don’t have to change anything. The thing’s open. We’re going to do the exact same thing. We’re not changing and that’s a huge benefit to us.”
Smith should be at a disadvantage compared to Stephen Johnson. After all, Johnson arrived from junior college in the spring, while Smith had to wait until he completed summer classes at Troy. Even so, the transition was pretty seamless.
“When he got here, everybody took to him. He’s a great teammate. He knew his role. He came in here and didn’t ruffle anybody’s feathers. He knew what he was here for. He took that role and ran with it. I think that was the biggest thing.”
Before the start of the season, Gran and Darin Hinshaw were prepared to have a contingency plan in place if they needed to call in No. 12. It was unnecessary.
“After 29 practices, we said, ‘Do we need a second game plan?’ We were fully prepared to do that if something happened to Terry,” recalled Gran. “After the camp we did not have to have a second play-call sheet. He knows the whole offense.”
Notes from Practice
Grading the Running Backs Pass Protection — Gran would give his group a C so far. Luckily, the offensive line is holding down the fort, allowing just three sacks through the first two games.
Pass Protection will be an emphasis against Florida. The Gators have 15 sacks, the most in the nation through two games. Landon Young does not care.
“I just gotta go out there and do what I do. I don’t think about stats. I just look at personnel, practice what I see, go out there and do the best I can. I don’t care about how many sacks or tackles they got. I’m going to do what I got to do. Their stats are going to be different against me.”
Piping in Crowd Noise — Typically the practice fields are only filled with crowd noise before the Cats hit the road. This week they are piping in Kroger Field crowd noise to help the defense learn how to communicate through loud third downs.
A Different Cadence in the Huddle — Wilson and Smith both know how to work a huddle. However, Kavosiey Smoke can tell a slight difference when Smith is calling the plays. After all, Wilson knows the offense just a little bit better. Whatever differences there are, it should not play a factor Saturday.
“I don’t think there’s any difference for real. He’s still got respect, just like we respect Terry. He’s just going to have to lead the offense and show that he can play.”
Before Smoke was asked about the quarterbacks, Tom Leach asked him if he’s tired of being asked about his name. He smiled and said a long, “Yeah.”
A Quieter Quarterback Room — Kentucky began fall camp with five scholarship quarterbacks. After a pair of injuries, that number has dwindled to three. Walker Wood, now the second option behind Sawyer Smith, said it took some adjusting once they returned to the facility Monday.
“The quarterback room is a really tight-knit group,” he said. “It sucked to see Nik go down in camp because we all have a lot of fun together. On Saturday with Terry going down, we have a little less people in there. It was a little more quiet at the beginning of the week, but we got a game on Saturday and that’s what we’re focused on. We’re praying for Terry and Nik and their recovery, but we’re focused on Saturday.”
Unfortunately, Wood is also well-acquainted with the rehab process after undergoing a pair of shoulder surgeries. “I just told them I’ve been there, done that more than once. I know what it’s like and if you ever need somebody to lean on, come to me because I know it’s tough and it’s a grind.”