LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky football was in full pads for the first time this preseason on Tuesday. Coordinator Eddie Gran and several other offensive players and coaches met with the media after practice No. 4. The highlights:
- This was Day 5 of installation for Kentucky’s offense, Day 1 in the full pads, and Gran said his group “handled it really well; they came out with energy after five days of practice and executed really, really well today. I was excited about it.” He used the word “awesome” repeatedly, mostly about the level of competition across the offense and how sharp things have been so far. That’s thanks in part to a great summer of player-run workouts, led by QB Drew Barker. “We’ve got high expectations for this offense,” Gran said. “With high expectations, you’ve got to pay a price.”
- Gran raved about competition at wide receiver (where UK is stacked), tight end (where freshman Justin Rigg is pushing C.J. Conrad and Greg Hart) and offensive line (where freshman Landon Young is pushing the other left tackles), but perhaps the most important thing he said is that Barker has completed about 70 percent of his passes in live drills the last two days. “If you’re there, you’re doing well,” Gran said.
- Back to Young, the 5-star recruit who just arrived on campus this summer. Gran said he’s “pressing our guys to go out there and play.” Former walk-on Cole Mosier and 4-star JUCO transfer Tate Leavitt are the Cats’ other left tackles. “You know freshmen, I’m not going to jump on any wagon there yet,” Gran said. “He’s got a lot going on with all the calls and everything, but boy you can see his athleticism. Saw a lot of toughness in him. It’s hard when the first couple days you go with no pads and then they put the pads on and you can just see he’s not backing down. He’s honing his craft, and I love that. He’s a good football player.”
- Star running back Boom Williams still can’t be tackled to the ground as coaches try to protect his surgically repaired right elbow in camp, but he’s doing just about everything else and “I’ve been excited about Boom,” Gran said. “He’s running the ball vertical. It’s got to be one cut and it’s got to be vertical. We can’t go side to side, now. Not in this league. If he wants to play at the next level, he better learn how to get vertical. That’s what he’s doing and he’s dropping pad, and I’m excited where he’s at.”
- Drew Barker said new receivers coach Lamar Thomas makes his guys sit in rows according to their spot in the depth chart in the wideouts’ meeting room. Receiver Garrett Johnson said it’s a useful motivational tactic, as the loaded group jockeys for front-row seats and starting spots.
- Gran, a fiery, (mostly) no-nonsense guy said left guard Nick Haynes and center Jon Toth have personalities closest to his own. “They’re locked in, everything that you do,” Gran said. “You can hear them talking to the O-line when something’s not going right.”
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