Gran Bringing Discipline to UK Offense

It’s clear Eddie Gran runs a tight ship.

Mere months into his tenure as Kentucky offensive coordinator and running backs coach, Gran has implemented a system a system that asks the Wildcats to compete in their off-field endeavors.

“Just in the classroom, whether or not you got study hall hours, who's gonna go this week without doing a tutor, and make it competitive,” Gran said. “Put it on paper and show 'em.”

So far, it’s working.

“We’re competing for school now, so everybody’s trying to be on time for everything, getting all our quiet study hours in,” running back Mikel Horton said. “He made it a competition off the field and living right, so when we come to the field football is the only thing we’re worried about.”

And when the Cats are on the field, Gran is on the Cats. Mistakes – missed assignments to fumbles – are not acceptable.

“If it’s wrong, he’s on you,” Horton said. “But he’s going to correct you. It’s to the point where you don’t want to get yelled at again. You’re going to make sure you do it right.”

If Gran sounds like a disciplinarian, that’s because he is. But just because he’s demanding doesn’t mean his players don’t like him.

“I’m in love with every bit of it,” Horton said. “He’s teaching us how to be men, on the field and off the field, and he’s teaching us bad things are going to happen, but how are you going to (respond) to them?”

Gran’s goal, you see, is to make practices, film review and really any kind of preparation as hard as possible. That way, come game day or a scrimmage like Saturday’s, things come much more easily.

“Stress your quarterbacks, stress your players,” Gran said. “Go. Tempo. So Saturday should be easy. I asked my running backs, ‘What’d you think about Saturday?’ And they said, ‘Man, Coach, that was easy.’ And it should be.”

To that end, Gran changes his personality on game day. The yelling goes by the wayside, as Gran becomes even-keeled and encouraging. 

“I told them, ‘Watch me on Saturday, guys,’ ” Gran said. “ ‘I’m going to stress you from Sunday to Friday. It’s going to be as hard as it can be, but on Saturday, you’re going to see me like this’ (runs hand in a straight horizontal line). I’m never going to get too high; I’m never going to get too low. I think that’s important. I think it’s important for our players to know that and see that. I didn’t yell at one person on Saturday. Not one person.”

In Gran’s mind, the reason for that is twofold. First, it best positions players to move on from mistakes. Second, he just doesn’t have time to get caught up in the emotions of the game. He’s got calls to make.

“I’ve got to go to the next play; and that’s some of the things I’ve learned,” Gran said. “I’m watching, we get a 40-yard pass and we get to the 5-yard line and I’m whooping and hollering, ‘Yeah, this is great.’ But now things have changed for me. I’ve got a goal-line package to run; you’ve got new personnel you’ve got to get in there.”

Gran spent the last three seasons as offensive coordinator at Cincinnati. The years under veteran head coach Tommy Tuberville were his first calling plays, giving him invaluable experience. Gran had conversations with Mark Stoops in previous years about becoming offensive coordinator at UK, but it was fortunate it didn’t happen until now.

“You know what, the last three years have been the best thing for me, in terms of just learning, coordinating,” Gran said. “Like we talked about before, when Mark maybe making a change before, I wasn’t ready. I’m ready.”

Gran has unmistakable confidence to match his infectious energy, confidence that was hard-earned.

“You learn a lot when you’re calling plays for the first time and the bullets start flying, you talk about your players, I’m going to tell you now, it’s something different,” Gran said. “You’re in no-huddle and you get a first down on the 18-yard line and you have to get a play called, I mean, it happens fast and some of them, I’ve done really good at and some of them, I’ve done really bad at. Hopefully I can learn from that and when that situation comes up again, man, I’m going to be ‘Boom. Boom. Boom. Boom.’ ”