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Two Hires, One Promotion, Different Result?

Darin Hinshaw (left) and Eddie Gran. (UKStoopsTroops | IG)

Darin Hinshaw (left) and Eddie Gran. (UKStoopsTroops | IG)

It’s fair to say that Eddie Gran and Darin Hinshaw won Monday’s press conference. While sitting in the third row, I suddenly got the same gut-wrenching feeling I experienced while in elementary school. You all remember, the day the substitute teacher exited and the real teacher returned. Strange illustration I know, but UK offensive players best put down the spit balls and trashed the paper airplanes. Adults are back in charge. Kentucky’s Head Coach of the Offense and Co-Offensive Coordinator collectively communicated a singular voice and vision for the Wildcat offense. In simpler terms, there will be offensive identity.

With that in mind, here are five observations from today’s press conference:

1. Gran and Hinshaw’s history and familiarity were obvious

However, the manner in which the pair delivered their vision, plan, and message to the inquisitive media herd impressed me more than averaging 537 yards per game at their previous school. On day one, Eddie Gran made clear a play calling process with Hinshaw in the booth and Gran on the field. They also explained how their offensive system was conceptualized and evolved. NFL and previous coaching influences combined to create their unnamed system. I’m sick and tired of offensive system catch phrases or cheesy names by the way. Just play football. “Our,” “we,” and “us” were all believable and commonly used words. That struck me as refreshingly odd.


2. Gran labelled his system as a multiple, pro-style offense

What this means is that that play calling is adaptable, not pigeonholed into a vernacular used to appease the masses. Plays start with the quarterback in the pistol, or condensed shotgun formation, with the utilization of an H-back or hybrid TE/FB. Music to BBN’s ears as CJ Conrad’s name was the only current Wildcat frequently mentioned. Gran and Hinshaw both said the offense would go “800 miles per hour” meaning tempo will be considerable faster than in Stoops’ three prior years.


3. The duo stressed offensive adaptability

This applies to inherited personnel as well as taking what the defense gives. Gran mentioned that 90 plays per game is the ultimate goal, but can be slowed down to match each game’s situation. This is accomplished by formation, personnel packages, and scheme. Darin Hinshaw strongly indicated that UK quarterbacks will now be counted on to run the read option play. No, really, the read option when the quarterback actually keeps the football and runs down field. By all accounts, tempo will be forced. Terminology and player buy-in were their two concerns going into spring practice. But when citing the “buy-in” portion, Eddie Gran said “the players really don’t have a choice.” I liked that. Again, UK now has a discernable offensive leader and direction.


4. Resume starts now

Players will be given a clean sheet of paper on which to paint their own destiny. Gran was emphatic that personnel evaluation will be thorough, strategic and viewed with a fresh set of eyes. Let me interpret. There will be no more “favorites,” and the way on to the playing field will be based off results, attitude, and performance. The BBN should release a collective sigh. No job is safe. Every position is up for competition, yes even Jon Toth will have to re-earn his stripes. In situations such as this, players that have previously underperformed will be given two choices: fold and transfer or adapt and excel. A career reserve can transform into a starter. True freshmen will be given ample opportunity to earn clock. Competition is healthy and weeds out those that like all that comes from being a football player from those that love to play the game of football. There is an enormous difference in the two. This much needed kick in the backside could potentially motivate an at times, lackadaisical offense.


5. Derrick Ansley’s promotion to Co-Defensive Coordinator is perhaps Mark Stoops’ most strategic coaching staff decision

As you’ve read on Kentucky Sports Radio, my affinity for Ansley has been frequently discussed. Now with a new title and promotion, Mark Stoops was able to retain one of the fastest rising SEC football coaches. DJ Eliot will still make all defensive calls, but Ansley’s responsibilities will increase. As Stoops’ most effective teacher, Ansley is destined to become a coordinator and head coach. His work to develop four secondary freshmen is proof enough, but his talents go well beyond that accomplishment. Derrick Ansley has the “it” factor. Mark it down, one day he will be leading his own football program.


In my short career, Monday’s press conference was the first time I’d witnessed the media be mostly in agreement. Most I spoke with were highly impressed by Eddie Gran and Darin Hinshaw. On-field results are yet to be determined. Words don’t score touchdowns. But as I see it, the pair seems as if it will go into each game with a plan, stick to said plan, make half-time adjustments, and play fast. All or some have been said before. Prior to departing for Troy, Neal Brown didn’t have a chance to enact his full offensive plan due to personnel limitations. I feel if Neal had stayed, the conversation and results would have been vastly different. After twelve games, I’m not convinced Shannon Dawson ever had a plan. The Gran/Hinshaw team were convincing, confident, and provided a calming energy.

Another noteworthy reference was that the pair had identified and are actively recruiting a quarterback. All indications point to College of the Desert quarterback Stephen Jackson II being the unidentified target. I tweeted his highlight reel last week and said to keep an eye on the situation. Johnson has a quick and accurate release with the ability to fully execute the run/pass option play. The same play that has been a painful thorn in side of Kentucky defenses for decades. Junior college quarterbacks are recruited to play, not to be on the scout team or provide depth. Leading into National Signing Day, Stephen Johnson II is apparently priority number one for the Lexington newcomers.

Could Kentucky have yet another quarterback competition? I sure as heck hope so. As stated earlier, all offensive positions are up for grabs. A fresh start. New confident and capable offensive leadership. Retaining one of the hottest assistant coaches in the SEC. You could say that Mark Stoops had a pretty good day.

Article written by Freddie Maggard

Former University of Kentucky Quarterback and Andy Griffith Fan Club President

17 Comments for Two Hires, One Promotion, Different Result?

  1. Reese Davis
    7:27 pm January 4, 2016 Permalink

    Good changes as of right now, simply because they can’t really do a worse job play calling than Shannon Dawson did. I’ve never seen a team as bad as we were in the second half of games, and I’ve especially never seen a team get worse down the stretch of the season like we did. Once teams figured us out, we were done. This fact reared its ugly head at the end of the season….31-0 in the second half vs Louisville. And they made it look easy, while our offense didn’t half anything left after the first half, no adjustments, no anything. We really do have talent avaliable, especially on offense, I believe a good coaching staff should be able to put 6 or 7 wins together with this group. or at least a 5 win season barring no breakdown in the second half of the season, due to our difficult schedule next year.

  2. kyjohn
    7:50 pm January 4, 2016 Permalink

    Refreshing to hear that Gran and Hinshaw actually have a system to implement rather than a catch phrase.Add to the fact that positions must be earned can only help the cause and surely the best athletes for their respective positions will be on the field.

  3. woohop1
    7:51 pm January 4, 2016 Permalink

    Freddie Maggard……outstanding observations and comment. Your insight and recognition of “what good looks like” is always right-on! I, too, recognized the professionalism and authenticity of both Gran and Hinshaw. I do believe that Dawson was out of his league as an OC in the SEC. We can now rein-in the attitudes of dissent and player BS that undermined our efforts this year. Gotta believe there are a few players that will have to change their behavior or change their team. No longer will the mal-contents run the reservation. With our young, but experienced defensive lineup, adding a dynamic and high performance Offense as described today can bring us the outcome we all dream about. I’M ALL IN! GBB!!

  4. Jaxson
    7:55 pm January 4, 2016 Permalink

    I didn’t watch any Cincinnati games, but I would be interested in knowing more about the halftime adjustments the Bearcat offense made.

  5. lmdxn
    8:02 pm January 4, 2016 Permalink

    Not gonna lie I really liked what I heard from Stoops and his new hires. I agree with Freddie in the sense that it’ll do our team good to have adults in charge. I think we can all agree that Dawson seemed childish at times especially in his interactions with the media and we’d be foolish to think it didn’t happen elsewhere. With a steady and calm voice to lead both offensively and defensively coupled with added depth and experience I’m hoping for noticeable, sustainable improvement. GO CATS

  6. inside info2
    8:08 pm January 4, 2016 Permalink

    Freddie — great write up. Should we be worried about a faster offense? If the offense isn’t much better than last year won’t that just means it gets off the field faster and the defense is on the field more?

    I do like hearing what Gran and Hinshaw have to say. I think Brown was forced on Stoops and I think Dawson was a terrible hire. It looks like Stoops will be able to trust Gran from day one.

  7. dean winchester
    8:10 pm January 4, 2016 Permalink

    I love the comment about the players not having a choice. Exactly. When I played I was expected to do what I was coached to do and produce or I road the bench. Pretty simple really.

  8. cats paw
    8:39 pm January 4, 2016 Permalink

    So everybody knows the whole problem was Dawson all along now? Can’t wait to see who you blame the problems on next year. Hint…it can be anybody but the man you are paying 3.6 million. He has NOTHING to do with this problem

    • theSkinny81
      8:45 pm January 4, 2016 Permalink

      You have problems, and everyone knows it.

    • Craig Sagers Suits
      9:27 pm January 4, 2016 Permalink

      guy’s got a point. the man you’re paying 3.6 million hired Dawson to begin with… just sayin.

    • WeareBBN
      10:49 pm January 4, 2016 Permalink

      But we found out Dawson was not his first choice, this guy was last year and turned it down. Stoops had to have someone and Dawson was probably the best of what was left. Stoops is doing a great job, getting kids to UK that never would have considered us before. Now with this OC group hire we get the coaching experience that may help the entire staff and players. I will not give up, must admit I considered it, but I will be renewing my season tickets and give this team support.

  9. shelby
    8:46 pm January 4, 2016 Permalink

    Sounds like pat towles made a HUGE mistake by transferring! Barker beterr be ready to earn his starting spot now…which will make him better.

  10. BluKudzu
    9:36 pm January 4, 2016 Permalink

    Although I respect the change in the direction of the offense, I think we all know talk of inflated expectations did not win games for us last year. If these guys are able to meet half of what they say, they will be exponentially better then where we were, especially if they eliminate the players that dished out the bovine scatology.
    The move on defense is what I was looking for, and this move can’t hurt.
    We will see what next year brings. We need a much better showing on the line, for both sides of the ball, I am curious what the plan will be on that. The SEC is going to be STACKED next year.
    Thinking it will be a very lean year w/o a third and fourth QB on the roster, and an offense that will run the QB. Maybe we can convert an end, or run a wildcat type offense if the first two QBs go down with injury.
    I just hope everyone keeps it real. I hope I am wrong, but, 5 wins will be a miracle, next year. I am hoping for the best, but, next season would be difficult with a roster full of 4 stars.

  11. Catlogic15
    9:44 pm January 4, 2016 Permalink

    Anybody ask them what happened vs San Diego St?
    All for the hire, but I’d like to hear their answer.

    • Mathlete
      9:55 pm January 4, 2016 Permalink

      They were missing their starting QB to injury I know, not sure who else was down but their offense is very QB heavy.

  12. Angelo
    1:59 am January 5, 2016 Permalink

    Two keys to football success: Quarterback and Receiver

  13. Bluebloodtoo
    10:38 am January 5, 2016 Permalink

    Is it Stephen Jackson or Stephen Johnson? I’m confused….