Over the years, Mark Stoops has struggled to develop a solid relationship with his offensive coordinators at Kentucky. When he first arrived in Lexington, he stepped on the heels of Neal Brown with his offense a bit. When Shannon Dawson came along, that lack of trust grew worse. Way worse.
They could never get on the same page, and it ultimately led to the two parting ways, leaving an open spot at the OC position, eventually filled by Cincinnati’s Eddie Gran.
Going into his third year at Kentucky, Gran has earned Mark Stoops’ complete trust, and vice versa. It’s a major change for each of them, considering their past situations.
“He does get in my ear, not very often,” Gran said at today’s UK Media Day. “He’s the best, and I mean that. I’ve been around it where sometimes you’ve got someone in your ear all the time, and it’s hard. It’s hard to focus. He doesn’t do that.”
Gran is notorious for a slow and steady approach, sometimes milking the clock with a lead. Some call it playing conservative, but it has led to back-to-back seven-win seasons, and a roster capable of achieving even more in 2018.
“He hasn’t told me to speed up a ton now,” he said. “It’s been more, ‘Hey, woah, slow it down.’ He gets that feel for it, and that’s what I love about him because he’s a defensive guy. We might be running the ball a little bit, and we’re going, and he can hear me and he knows that I’m getting ready to set something up and to throw the ball, and he’ll come down there, and he’ll say, ‘Don’t you even think about throwing the ball. They’re on their heels, let’s go. Smash ‘em. Smash ‘em.’ Yes sir, (I tell him).”
When asked about telling Gran to speed up the offense, Stoops said he has on occasion, but he catches himself and lets his coordinator do his job.
“Not often (laughter), not often,” he said. “It just depends. There’s been times when we have gone at a pretty good clip and there’s been times when we have been methodical and that’s been the best way.
There’s been times when I’ve been in Eddie’s ear about going fast, and he’s just been methodical, thinking things through and setting things up and it’s been very effective. It’s game-to-game, year-to-year.”
This year, we’ll see a bit of both, but he trusts Gran to come up with a successful game plan to win football games.
“We’ll have a little of both. We’ll be able to go fast and we’ll be able to be methodical as well,” Stoops said.