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What does Stoops tell Gran: “‘Don’t you even think about throwing the ball. They’re on their heels, let’s go. Smash ‘em. Smash ‘em.”

Eddie Gran (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

What pace does the Kentucky offense need to have this season?

“It just depends. There’s been times when we have gone at a pretty good clip and there’s been times when we have been methodical and that’s been the best way,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said. “There’s been times when I’ve been in Eddie’s ear about going fast, and he’s just been methodical, thinking things through and setting things up and it’s been very effective.

“It’s game-to-game, year-to-year. We’ll see how it plays out. 

We’ll have a little of both. We’ll be able to go fast and we’ll be able to be methodical as well.

”

So how often does he get in offensive coordinator Eddie Gran’s ear about pace of play?

“Not often. But there’s been times, yeah,” Stoops said.

I wondered just how many times and I also had a hard time thinking about the defensive-minded Stoops telling Gran to speed up the offense. Stoops is a coach who wants to win with defense and a ball-control offense. Often Kentucky fans have been frustrated because UK’s offense would not put the throttle down in the second half of games when the Cats had the lead.

“He does get in my ear, not very often. He’s the best, and I mean that. I’ve been around it where sometimes you’ve got someone in your ear all the time, and it’s hard,” Gran said. “It’s hard to focus. He doesn’t do that. He hasn’t told me to speed up a ton now.”

So what does he tell Gran?

“It’s been more, ‘Hey, woah, slow it down.’ He gets that feel for it, and that’s what I love about him because he’s a defensive guy,” Gran said. “We might be running the ball a little bit, and we’re going, and he can hear me and he knows that I’m getting ready to set something up and to throw the ball, and he’ll come down there, and he’ll say, ‘Don’t you even think about throwing the ball. They’re on their heels, let’s go. Smash ‘em. Smash ‘em.’ Yes sir.”

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  1. Two great questions: How many plays per game would be optimum and what ration of run to pass would be best.

    Pace: Last year, UK ran 62.9 plays per game from scrimmage. The average of all SEC teams was 67.4, and the range was a low of 61.0 by Tennessee to a high of 75.9 by Mississippi State. Kentucky was the 4th lowest. Kentucky’s opponents last season ran 68.7 plays per game from scrimmage, and the SEC average by opponents was 67.8. The range by opponents was a low 58.5 (Mississippi State) to a high 74.6 (Mississippi). Kentucky was 5th highest.

    Kentucky ran fewer and Kentucky opponents ran more plays than the average of 67.4 to 67.8 plays per game.

    In my opinion, the number of plays a team runs increases when the offense can sustain drives, and the number of plays opponents can run decreases with a defense’s ability to get off the field. Therefore, I believe UK should strive to increase the number of plays it runs per game and decrease the number of plays it allows its opponents to run per game.

    Run-Pass Ratio:

    Last year, Kentucky ran the ball 59.7% of is plays (passing on 40.3% of its plays). The SEC average run-pass distribution last season was 55.5% to 44.5%, so Gran/Stoops ran the ball more often than the average SEC team.

    This factor is interesting because generally, the higher the run percentage, the stronger the team performed within the SEC.

    The teams that ran the ball the most averaged 65.1% runs and averaged 5.25 yds/run:

    Alabama 64.8% and 5.73 yds/run
    Mississippi State 64.2% and 5.16 yds/run
    LSU 65.2% and 4.79 yds/run
    Auburn 62.7% and 4.76 yds/run
    Georgia 68.7% and 5.79 yds/run

    The teams that ran the ball the least averaged 50.3% runs and averaged 4.23 yds/run:

    Mississippi 46.0% and 4.34 yds/run
    Vanderbilt 46.3% and 3.70 yds/run
    South Carolina 50.5% and 3.92 yds/run
    Texas A&M 53.0% and 4.00 yds/run
    Missouri 53.1% and 5.18 yds/run

    The other 4 averaged 57.5% runs and averaged 4.09 yds/run:

    Kentucky 59.7% and 4.31 yds/run
    Florida 56.2% and 4.30 yds/run
    Tennessee 56.4% and 3.41 yds/run
    Arkansas 57.6% and 4.36 yds/run

    I believe it is clear that in the SEC teams that can control the game with a running game do so and do so successfully. I think Stoops/Gran fully realize that to be truly successful, they must have teams that can run the ball with success. I believe they will continue to try to force the square peg into a round hole and run-run-run.

    To run, you must have a legitimate passing threat, but an offensive line that opens holes and backs that run with strength, speed, and determination. I think UK has been on the short end on all three counts in recent years.

  2. In the SEC you have to be good at both and be able to get it done running or passing, whichever is called for at the time.
    Having said that, Snell is not a bruiser that can continually go against SEC teams running the ball 30-40 times a game; besides, UK does not have an O line that can sustain that either. Snell will just end up being hurt.
    In the SEC, you need at least 3, better

    1. To finish:
      to have 4 backs that get you yards. UK only had 1 last year.
      You must be able to move the ball whether throwing or passing and UK was not that great at either last year.

    2. Don’t know about your comment on Snell. he has already proven, to me at least, that he can do more than his fair share, and move the chains in the process. He did it time and time again the last two years. No back in the SEC was called on more than Snell. He will be a load in 2018 if he stays healthy. I look for another UK back to rise to the occassion in 2018 as well.

  3. Some nice things were said about this years UK football team by Chris Dorring last night on the basketball telecast. I do believe this team has play
    makers. Hope Stoops can motivate, and hope Gran can get the offense to move the chains with regularity. The UK defense has to improve dramatically too. I hope they surprise us all.

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