The SEC still has plans to play this fall. So teams are out on the practice field, trying to get designs and plays installed as quickly as possible. The first game is still a month away, but in a year where there were few spring workouts, time is of the essence. According to offensive coordinator Eddie Gran, this Kentucky team is catching on pretty quickly.
Since I’ve been here, this is the fastest we’ve installed (the offensive playbook),” said Kentucky’s offensive coordinator. “We’ve just finished five practices, and we didn’t slow down. We went through all five installs. That’s never happened here. They have been unbelievable. They picked it up. It’s not perfect, but I sure do like where they’re going.”Eddie Gran, Offensive Coordinator
The Wildcats were able to start walk-throughs in late July, and Gran seems to think that has a lot to do with the speed in which this team is picking up his scheme.
While the schedule change, because of the virus, has hurt some aspects of the off-season for Kentucky, one player has sure benefited. Quarterback Terry Wilson missed almost every play last year to an injury he suffered in Week 2. During the delay, Wilson has been allowed to heal more than he would if the summer had gone as expected.
Head coach Mark Stoops had this to say about Wilson’s recovery:
“I just think a couple of extra weeks when he probably felt close to 100 percent maybe a month or so ago, just having a little extra time can only help a guy like that,” Stoops said. “I want to say it was practice one, and I noticed it again today, that he really has a good comfort level in the pocket. He stepped up in the pocket, and delivered the football down the field, threw it really well. But also when he made the decision to pull it down and run, I’m really trying to be quick on the whistle because I don’t want to see him stretch it out and run, but pulling it down, he’s like a bolt again like he used to be.”UK Head Coach Mark Stoops
Eddie Gran was happy with Wilson’s progress too:
“I was just excited to see Terry in the pocket. I thought we executed pretty well for the third day. The quarterbacks sat in there and did a nice job. We caught the ball, and we competed. That’s what I’m most happy about right now. We’re competing — we’re straining, and we’re competing on every play. We’re not perfect. We got a long way to go, but if we can do that and play fast, we’ll have a chance to be a good football team.”
While the offense hasn’t done a lot of 11 v 11 yet, the staff says they’ll be ready for that in just a few weeks. Gran continues to add new wrinkles to the plays they already know to see if they can catch on. Despite that, this Kentucky offense doesn’t seem to be hampered by the change of schedule.
The Wildcats had a tremendous year last year, considering losing both of their quarterbacks early, resorting to a converted wide receiver to run the offense. The fact remained though, Lynn Bowden, as talented as he is, was not a passer.
Kentucky ran the ball a lot. With the trio of Bowden, Kavosiey Smoke, and AJ Rose, UK led the conference in rushing. Gran doesn’t expect that to happen again this year. We should see a more balanced offense with Wilson back.
Don’t think that Wilson under center means that defenses can ignore the quarterback taking off. He’s a capable runner too, it just so happens he also has a cannon.
Kentucky’s offense still has a lot of work ahead of them, and no help with scheduling. This season will be one of the toughest for the Wildcats.
Hearing that the offense is picking up the playbook so quickly is a good sign. Touchdown Terry being back. Wideout Josh Ali, running backs Rose, and Smoke still there as the main weapons, and one of the best offensive lines in the country makes this offense a force to deal with.