LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) — Kentucky’s first scrimmage of spring workouts produced the good, bad and the ugly, all of which were expected by the coaching staff.
Kentucky offensive coordinator Eddie Gran liked the way the team converted on third down, hitting the 60 percent ratio and added the “effort and physicality was pretty good.” Gran also liked the high marks on first-down efficiency.
“I like the way they’re competing right now,” he said Tuesday.
On the flip side, Gran was disappointed in a pair of pre-snap penalties on the “first and third play.” One was by an offensive lineman and the other by a receiver. He also disliked a pair of interceptions and a dropped ball in a critical situation.
“We had a lot of missed opportunities in the passing game,” Gran said. “But with all that being said, it’s encouraging because we’ve got a chance to be really good. We’ve got to get that cleaned up between now (and the next scrimmage) on Saturday. We’ve got to be able to execute.”
Gran liked the fact the Wildcats didn’t panic in times of adversity.
“We actually recovered after the first two penalties and came back and got a first down, which is hard to do,” Gran said. “They’re going to learn. For three (quarterbacks) who haven’t had a lot of experience, that’s what this spring is for.”
Transitioning to a new starting signal-caller is nothing new to quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw. Transfer Terry Wilson and returnee Gunnar Hoak bring two different dynamics to the position, but both are inexperienced at the Southeastern Conference level.
Hinshaw said making mistakes during spring workouts is preferable compared to next fall and during the regular season. Hoak threw two interceptions in the team’s first scrimmage of the spring last Saturday, but Hinshaw said the miscues can be “fixed very easily.”
“We don’t want to make (mistakes) come August and September and play real games,” he said. “There are a lot of things that I really, really like that we’re doing and then making mistakes that we’re making … You have to throw (interceptions) to learn not to throw those. We’re going through a learning curve right now, and it’s a different learning curve for (all of the quarterbacks) right now.”
Despite the lack of experience at quarterback, Gran said the Wildcats have enough plays installed that “we could go into a game easy with what we’ve got in there.”
“We need to get great at what we’re doing right now,” Gran said. “We could pull back and say, ‘let’s just get great at fundamentals and technique in the spring and get better that way.’”
Kentucky’s spring game us set for 6:30 p.m., April 13, at Kroger Field.
Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter @keithtaylor21.