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Talent upgrade, coaching hires impressed UK media members

Drew Barker (Vicky Graff Photo)

Drew Barker (Vicky Graff Photo)


During this offseason time for both Kentucky football and basketball, I decided to consult some of my media friends for their insights/perspective on the UK football team and what might lie ahead during the 2016 season.

Here’s part one of a series of questions I posed to those who regularly cover Kentucky football.

Question: What impressed you the most about Kentucky’s spring practice?

Freddie Maggard, Kentucky Sports Radio: “Mark Stoops started his UK tenure with zero position groups with SEC caliber depth and talent. Fast forward four years, only offensive tackle depth and defensive line talent/depth is in question as every other group is SEC ready. Going further, the secondary and running backs can be labeled as top-shelf. By chipping away through recruiting, Stoops and staff have flipped the roster. I said from day one that the UK reclamation process was a five-year venture. That theory isn’t popular with fans, but when analyzing personnel, I still feel he’s building a team the right way. He had a long road ahead after saying yes to Mitch Barnhart.”

Keith Taylor, Kentucky Forward: “I was impressed with how quickly the offensive unit caught on to Eddie Gran’s system and how the running backs ran the ball. Didn’t see as many dropped passes, which also is a good sign for the new offensive coaches. Drew Barker took command and won the quarterback job without anyone lurking over his shoulder going into the summer.”

Mark Story, Lexington Herald-Leader: “For the off-season overall, I think the most important development for Kentucky football was the hiring of Eddie Gran and Darin Hinshaw to run the offense. I think their prior SEC experience (Gran at Ole Miss, Auburn and Tennessee; Hinshaw at Tennessee) is going to make a big difference for Kentucky. In all my (limited) dealings with them, they come across as guys who know what they are doing.”

Tom Leach, UK Radio Network/Leach Report: “I’ll go with Drew Barker because I think the farther above average the play is from the quarterback position, the better Kentucky’s chances of getting six or more wins.  Drew hit some tough throws for TDs to Conrad and Timmons (in the Blue-White Game) and I especially liked how he came back from an interception to lead an impressive two-minute drill for the TD right before halftime.”


  1. Freddie I agree with you, BUT…5 years is enough if it ain’t happening. Mark, I hope Gran and Hinshaw bring with them the “urgency” to win in the SEC. I loved what I saw from them this spring for sure. That little “upset” attitude when practice wasn’t good rather than blowing it off. Our players need to do the same thing.

    Winning our non conference games shouldn’t be enough either. Set your goals high boy’s, set your goals high!

  2. In 2015, UK’s offensive efficiency was 11th best in the SEC and its defensive efficiency was 13th best in the SEC. These two facts tell the tale for UK football. To be competitive in the W-L columns, UK must elevate its game to SEC Competitiveness on offense and defense. To put this idea into a quantitative sense, consider this:

    2015 Offensive Efficiency in the SEC:

    Top 4: 3.74 points per possession to 4.68 ppp
    Bottom 4: 1.46 ppp to 2.52 ppp

    UK: 2.52 ppp

    2015 Defensive Efficiency in the SEC:

    Top 4: 0.78 ppp to 1.19 ppp
    Bottom 4: 1.85 ppp to 1.43 ppp

    UK: 1.75 ppp

    This defines UK’s problem. The average SEC offense was 3.1 ppp, and UK must get into that range to be SEC competitive. The average SEC defense was 1.3 ppp, and UK must get into that range to be SEC competitive. Unless and until that occurs, the UK program will not be SEC competitive, which was one of Coach Stoops’ stated goals, and not even his most ambitious because I recall he spoke about competing for SEC Championships, not just competing with the average teams in the league.

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