If Saturday’s scrimmage was an abomination to offensive football, Tuesday’s practice was the polar opposite.
Eddie Gran entered the lobby of the Joe Craft Football Training Center calm, but could not keep his cool for long. Saturday’s awfulness was too much to contain.
“There wasn’t anything good about what we did on offense,” said UK’s offensive coordinator. “We didn’t start off very good. We didn’t have a lot of urgency. It wasn’t very good at all…Not near where we need to be for us to have a great offense.”
The offense had few explosive plays and two turnovers, but nothing irked Gran more than the pre-snap penalties. UK’s offense was flagged seven times before the ball was snapped.
“That’s a joke. That’s focus, that’s discipline and that’s absolutely atrocious.” He added: “I can’t stand that. You can’t put yourself in those positions, and we’re not going to do that here. We’re going to get those guys out. They can be on the sideline with me.”
What aggravated Gran even more was that three of the penalties came from wide receivers, players who stare at the ball until it is snapped. They’re young, but that’s no longer an excuse.
“It’s very frustrating. It’s disappointing, but it shows us how far we have to go. To make mistakes like that is inexcusable,” wide receivers coach Michael Smith said. “If we’re beating ourselves before the ball is snapped, we’re going to have issues.”
Smith told his receivers before today’s practice: “Whenever you’re backed in a corner, you gotta come out swinging.” It sounds like it worked.
As bad as Saturday was, Tuesday was terrific. Gran believes it might be the best they’ve played all spring.
“The good part, is today Coach (Stoops) challenged them and talked to them about that urgency, talked to them about competing,” said Gran. “Today we competed like an offense should. We competed like a team. We had a great practice and that’s the way you want ’em to respond.
“We got into a team situation where we moved the ball, it was like another scrimmage, but THUD (wrapping up without tackling), and we went for about another 35 minutes. It was awesome. We made plays and we got after it, so that’s the exciting part about it. We actually got better today as an offense for the first time I think this spring, so Hallelujah!”
The Kentucky offense is far from a polished product, but today’s effort and energy was exactly what they needed after a rough first scrimmage of the spring season.
“It was good to see them respond,” Gran said. “We got a long way to go, but that was encouraging what I saw. I think it was really the first time we took a step in the right direction.”