UK Gets in Situational Work at Thursday Practice

Most of the spring has been about installation for Kentucky. With a new offensive system and plenty of fresh faces on both sides of the ball, learning schemes has been the priority.

But now that’s over. 

“Everything is in, now we’ve got to start honing in on fundamentals and technique,” offensive coordinator Eddie Gran said. “We’ve got to get better at what we do, first steps, finishing, becoming tougher, executing on every single play. That’s what we’re looking for now. We’re done installing.”

With the big-picture stuff in, the Wildcats are going to work on details.

“So now it’s about let’s hone in: all the red zones in; all the third downs in, and so now let’s put it together,” Gran said. “Let’s start being more consistent from here until we end the spring game.”

UK, at the 10th practice of spring, took a step in the right direction on Thursday. 

“Today, we had a competitive practice, a lot of competitive drills, two-minute situations, red-zone situations, third-down situations, and that’s critical,” defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot said. “When you look at winning and losing games, those are sometimes the most important things – winning the situations. And we had very good competition on both sides.”

Gran is still looking for his offense to adjust to the tempo he demands on a down-to-down basis, but the Cats were effective moving quickly when they went to a two-minute drill.

“I thought they ran it well,” Gran said. “They were getting up to the line, they were going quick and you can see how that affects the pass rush if you’re playing fast because then you eliminate it. And you got to throw and catch. You throw and catch and you keep going, then those guys get tired.”

In a spring two-minute drill, the stakes aren’t all that high. But come fall, it’s a completely different story. That’s why the Cats are practicing..

“In two-minute, you convert a couple third downs,” Gran said. “You go down and score, you win the game, you think you’re heroes and you played like crud. But that’s football. That’s what they’ve got to understand about situational football. It’s so important.”

That’s the entire point of spring: building a foundation.

“It’s tough because you have to coach a player in steps,” Eliot said. “You can’t start in situations on Day 1, otherwise they can’t take on a block, can’t tackle, can’t cover. It’s tough because it’s a process of educating a player, and that’s one of the final steps: I know exactly what to do, I know exactly how to do it, now what is this particular situation?”