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It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad night for Kentucky’s offense against Mississippi State. Kentucky had just ten first downs and 157 yards of offense in the winning effort. Offensive coordinator Eddie Gran fell on the sword but remained optimistic on the offensive outlook, describing the mistakes as “fixable.”
“It starts right here with me, always,” Gran said. “When we play poorly it goes down to us and as coaches you go and find out what can be fixed. We need to get into a rhythm. We had a chance to get into a rhythm — technique, fundamentals, throw, catch. When we do that we’re in pretty good shape and we had our opportunity. Then I’ve gotta put them in a better position. If we’re struggling then I’ve gotta be a better play-caller. That’s on me.”
Pleased with Tuesday’s practice, Gran is not ready to completely scrap the offense and start from scratch. However, he does plan on shrinking the playbook to maximize efficiency.
“There’s an urgency. I don’t think there’s a panic. That’s happening right now. The next person up. We’ve gotta produce,” he said. “Right now we’ve gotta get better at the details of what we’re doing. We’ve certainly condensed a little bit this week and I was really pleased with today.”
Fix Rose’s Fumbling Problem
A.J. Rose’s fingers are no longer sticky. Ball control was never really a problem for the running back until November of 2019. He fumbled against Vanderbilt, then two weeks later against Louisville, and he fumbled twice in the Belk Bowl. After putting it on the turf in consecutive weeks to start the 2020 season, Rose now has six fumbles in his last seven games.
“It’s concerning, there’s no question. There’s an urgency and he knows that,” Gran said. “He had not (had a fumbling problem) up until a couple last year. It’s gotta be zero. It’s just a matter of — you look at some plays and he’s high and tight. He’s got that arm locked. This one, when you’re in traffic you gotta get the other hand on there and you gotta lock the wrist. There’s a big-time sense of urgency and yeah, he can get it fixed.”
Gran recalled a running back at Florida State, Chris Thompson, who found a way to solve his fumbling problem. There’s another back in Gran’s room right now that fought through fumbling problems early in his career, Chris Rodriguez.
“He’s a warrior. He’s kind of started where he left off last year. He’s running really well, running angry and I really like where Chris is right now,” said Gran.
JuTahn McClain is Ready to Go
On Monday night’s call-in show, Mark Stoops said that Rose and Rodriguez were both a little banged up after the Miss. State game. To help alleviate the heavy workload, JuTahn McClain’s number will be called.
“That was awesome. The kid runs really, really hard. He’s got some great vision. You saw the little burst,” Gran said of the true freshman’s 17-yard carry last Saturday. “It’s one of those things where we always talk about Benny (Snell). When a player comes in and if somebody asks, ‘Coach, why am I not playing?’ You pop on the film and I say, ‘Make me play you.’ This young man is going to make me play him, a lot like Benny. Here we are going into our fourth game and the kid is ready. The kid is ready to go.”
Kentucky’s star right tackle attended high school in Cleveland but spent most of his formative years growing up in Knoxville. Naturally, that comes with plenty of negative side effects.
“I got a couple close friends of mine that are Tennessee fans. They kind of put it in my face — Big Orange fans. At the end of the day, it’s a game. I still love them to death.”
Some might put a homecoming on a pedestal, but not Kinnard. He has more important things to worry about this weekend at Neyland Stadium.
“It’s back to business. I grew up there. There’s nothing special about coming back,” he said. “I’m always there out of season every other weekend with friends and family. To me it’s not that special going back and playing there, just like it is going anywhere else in the country and playing a team. It’s just back to business. It may have been different my freshman year, it may have been special. Right now we’ve just gotta get back to business and win.”
Want more? Hear what wide receiver Josh Ali had to say after Tuesday’s practice.