The Kentucky football team cannot afford to get behind the chains against Southern Miss this Saturday. Facetiously dubbed “Second and 10 U” over the years, the Cats must avoid those situations at all cost on Saturday.
“The biggest thing that they feed on is getting you in second and long. We’ve got to be efficient on first down,” offensive coordinator Eddie Gran said after today’s practice. “We’re good when we’re efficient on first down. When we’re not, then you’re behind the chains and that’s when they feed off what they do well. We’ve got to stay out of third and longs. That’s not a very fun call. We gotta be able to execute when we do have that though — we call it our money down — we gotta convert.”
In 2016, Southern Miss created chaos behind the line of scrimmage. The Golden Eagles ranked 21st in tackles for loss with 91 and 28th in sacks with 34. They beefed up the interior of the defensive line with the addition of 6’3″ 290-pound JUCO standout Delmond Landry, someone that could cause trouble in the trenches.
“I think their front four is really good,” Gran said. “I think their linebackers do a great job. They run to the football. They’re coached very well. They understand where they need to be. I think it’s a heck of a defense. For our first game, this is going to be a huge challenge for us.”
There is a silver lining. Even though there are unknowns in the first game, their scheme is consistent with last year’s.
“I think that will help us, but there’s going to be some stuff they have that we haven’t seen, there’s no question. There’s stuff we have that they haven’t seen. So it’ll be a chess match and at the end of the day we’re going to have to execute.”
How Gran counters in the game of chess and how the players respond will determine the game’s outcome.
“There’s going to be some bad things that happen. I think we’re mature enough now, that when those bad things happen to come back, regroup, get it fixed and we got to move forward.”