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The Kentucky Offense Collapsed When it Took the Ball Out of Stephen Johnson’s Hands

A second half offensive lull killed Kentucky’s chances of putting Florida away for good.

When Kentucky took a 24-14 lead with 5:54 remaining in the third quarter, the offense was imposing its will on Florida from all angles, especially in the passing game.  Stephen Johnson was 13-of-17 for 165 yards and three touchdowns.

Instead of sticking with Stephen Johnson, Eddie Gran turned to the running game.

The next UK offensive drive ended with a three and out.  A fourth down defensive stop gave the UK offense the ball on the Florida 49-yard line.  Five plays later, UK settled for a field goal.  On UK’s next offensive possession there was another three and out.

Johnson dropped back to pass just three times between the 5:54 mark of the third quarter and the beginning of the game’s final drive with 43 seconds remaining.  Two of the three passes were third down incompletions; the other was a second down sack.

After the game, I asked offensive coordinator Eddie Gran if they should have put the ball in Johnson’s hands more during that stretch.

“No,” he said without hesitation.  “When we rush the ball, and if you’re the team that rushes the ball more, you usually win in this league.  We were trying to get ’em.  We had some pretty good explosive run plays.  No, I don’t at all.

“We’re going to run the ball too.  We’re going to pass the ball too.  I thought we were balanced for awhile.  I thought we had ’em off balanced.  I thought he (Johnson) played a heck of a game.  We have to be physical and we have to help our defense too.  We can’t go three and out, three and out, three and out.  We’re going to continue to run the football when we feel like we need to run the football.”

Gran felt like the team needed to run the football.  From the stands, it felt like the Kentucky offense was playing not to lose.

Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR

13 Comments for The Kentucky Offense Collapsed When it Took the Ball Out of Stephen Johnson’s Hands

  1. runningunnin.454
    12:58 am September 24, 2017 Permalink

    You’re right…playing not to lose. Do we have to run into the middle of a stacked box? What happened to the sweeps; and the screens, and run-pass option. Does C.J. Conrad leave and go home after the 3rd Q? You have to continue to play the way that gave you the lead.

  2. syrin23
    12:59 am September 24, 2017 Permalink

    Those comments by Eddie Gran should be cause to be immediately fired. Even in HINDSIGHT he can’t see he completely f’d up which means he will repeat this same mistake over and over. Bring in Hal Mumme as offensive coordinator. I’d rather be hyper aggressive than timid, and this git can’t look at Jonhson’s numbers and see what he should have done. Tom Brady had 447 yards last game. They didn’t decide they “had to” run the ball. You go with what works, not what “should” work.

  3. jccuk
    1:46 am September 24, 2017 Permalink

    I USED to be an Eddie Gran fan, but this running only offensive scheme when in the lead is OFFENSIVE. If not for the missed field goals last week, we would be 0-2 in the SEC and he doesn’t realize that. Let Johnson play his game and roll out and throw it. You noticed that you didn’t see Lynn Bowden in the second half or you never saw another throw to Conrad in the fourth quarter, playing not to lose on offense caused us to lose the game and everyone who knows football saw this. If Gran can’t see this then maybe it’s time for him to go elsewhere.

  4. JusSayin
    2:05 am September 24, 2017 Permalink

    At one point last year Johnson’s throwing ability was a liability and should have only been used as a counter to the run game.

    Now it’s the opposite. Our offense works better when we default to throwing and use running as our counter. Mainly because if nothing is available Johnson can still decide to run.

    Our offensive line is not good enough to create the holes needed for Snell to be effective without a dynamic passing attack.

  5. blackmilk23
    2:07 am September 24, 2017 Permalink

    When we play good teams we can’t just let Stephen Johnson be a game manager. As evident by the fact that we let Florida’s putrid offense score almost 30 points… we don’t have the defense to allow us to under utilize him.

  6. bankerbh
    8:31 am September 24, 2017 Permalink

    I said this after he was hired…Eddie Gran is in way over his head. He’s never coached in this competitive of a conference as he came from Un of Cincinnati and the pressure packed AAC. Although the O Line seemed to fall apart in the second half and couldn’t support the coach’s new game plan, how do you forget about C.J. Conrad and not try to target him for key receptions?

  7. I’m in the same camp with those who have pointed out that Gran there is no different than Cal when he stubbornly takes the air out of the ball too soon and (in part) costs us a Wisconsin game, and almosts costs us a FF game against UL and a championship game against KU.

    Matt said it best a couple weeks ago: coaches are the most stubborn ppl on the planet, except politicians.

  8. psacatfan
    8:56 am September 24, 2017 Permalink

    Haven’t seen a replay but I remember counting 7 or 8 men in the box when we continually tried to run up the middle. I’ve never been a coach but that doesn’t sound like a smart move unless you’re just trying to run out the clock. Gran can protest all he wants, but he w ent into slow down mode too early. he thought the 24 points would win the game. Our last FG was a gitt after the 4th down stop.

  9. BTownUKFan
    9:01 am September 24, 2017 Permalink

    Gran should stop worrying about “how you win in this league” and focus on winning a game.

    • Cat68
      9:46 am September 24, 2017 Permalink

      Take what the game gives, not what Gran wants to force feed the BBN!

  10. Cat68
    9:43 am September 24, 2017 Permalink

    Balanced schmalanced! Why is this the goal? Said the OC who just lost a huge game, “…we’ll continue to run the ball.” Yep, no adjustments needed there!

  11. kyboys
    7:45 pm September 24, 2017 Permalink

    I told everyone that would listen about this when I watch his final game for cinny in the bowl game. Horrible play calling.