Football

Gran Looking for More Offensive Balance in 2020

by Tim Letcher

Kentucky finished last football season with Lynn Bowden Jr., a wide receiver, playing quarterback and an offensive attack that almost exclusively kept the ball on the ground. While Bowden’s playmaking ability made that plan work, the UK coaching staff would like to have more balance.

This year, the Cats are going back to a more conventional offense, bolstered by the return of quarterback Terry Wilson, who was injured in the second game last year and missed the rest of the season. That kind of drastic change in an offense could be an adjustment with practice still in the early stages. But offensive coordinator Eddie Gran likes what he has seen from his unit so far and looks forward to the ball being in the air more this season.

“I think for sure that we want to develop the passing game,” Gran said after Tuesday’s practice. “When Terry got hurt, we seemed to be pretty balanced those first two games (without him).”

However, that plan evolved and it was determined that getting the ball in the hands of Bowden was the best way to move forward last year. Now, Gran would like to return to the full offense, something that this year’s team is picking up very quickly.

“Since I’ve been here, this is the fastest we’ve installed (the offense),” Gran said. “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’ve picked it up. It’s not perfect, but I sure do like where they’re going. We’ve thrown a lot at them.”

There is still plenty for the offense to learn, and plenty to work on, but Gran is pleased with the unit’s effort.

“We’re competing on every play. We’re not perfect, we’ve got a long way to go,” Gran said. “But if we can do that and play fast, we’re going to have a chance to be a good football team.”

Gran hopes that Wilson’s return will provide that balance that the UK offense likes to have to keep opponents on their toes.

“We’re going to be able to, because our passing game is getting better, to mix it around a little bit more and keep people off balance,” Gran said. “Just in a different manner than we did last year.”

Senior offensive tackle Darian Kinnard knows that having Wilson back behind center allows the Cats to be more versatile.

“With Lynn back there, he would just make plays,” Kinnard said. “Terry is really fast, he can move around in the pocket well, too and he has an arm, too. I feel very strong about the run game from last season. Hopefully we’ll keep that strong and keep improving on the pass game.”

Senior wide receiver Josh Ali spent the summer developing more chemistry with Wilson.

“Just working with him one on one, after practice,” Ali said. “Even during this quarantine time, we worked out a lot over the summer. It’s been great. We’re just getting our timing down right now.”

Many would assume that putting the ball in the air means playing faster. Gran believes that the fast-paced offense, just to be fast-paced, is not always the best idea.

“I think you’ve really got to be smart,” Gran said of speeding up the game’s tempo. “I really listen to Coach Stoops, he gets a great feel of where we’re at in the game. I think that’s kind of gone away, in terms of just fast, every 20 seconds, getting on and going as fast as you can go. Sometimes that can hurt you.”

However, that doesn’t mean that the 2020 Cats won’t speed up the game at times.

“I think you’ve got to have change of pace, though,” Gran said. “I think we’re in a position now that we can change the pace sometimes and go really fast and just mix it in.”

And, with Wilson back under center this season, that will include the passing game and a much more balanced offense.

 

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