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Kentucky aims to make simple better ahead of SEC opener at South Carolina

By Keith Taylor
Kentucky Today

Although Kentucky didn’t put a dent in the scoreboard in a 27-16 win over Eastern Kentucky in its home opener last weekend, the Wildcats made strides, especially offensively.

“I think the best thing we saw is that we executed,” Kentucky offensive coordinator Eddie Gran said earlier this week. “We got a little bit better on third down. We were one-for-one in the red zone. We were efficient in running the ball.”

Kentucky receiver Blake Bone makes a catch in a 27-16 win over Eastern Kentucky last week. The Wildcats open Southeastern Conference play at South Carolina Saturday. (UK Athletics Photo)

For the first time this season, Kentucky amassed more than 200 yards rushing, but could have done more if not for costly mistakes, such as penalties and bad snaps that stalled several scoring opportunities against the Colonels.

“The worst thing I saw is that we were our own worse enemy,” Gran said. “We got to take care of the bad snaps … we’ve got to take care of the penalties. We do that and we’ve got a chance. We really do.”

The offensive coordinator said the Wildcats are picking up blitzes, but added the offensive line’s “technique wasn’t very good,” especially against Eastern Kentucky.

“We got knocked back into the quarterback and that’s all technique, getting a better base, anticipating,” Gran said. “The good part about that is we were on the right guys. We just didn’t do a very good job of executing and finishing. We’ve got to be able to finish.”

Gran said Kentucky’s mindset going into the Southeastern Conference opener at South Carolina Saturday is to “make simple better.”

“If we’ll make simple better then we’ve got a chance this weekend,”
Gran said. “We have to do that.”

Snell OK: Kentucky running back Benny Snell said he’s back to 100 percent after suffering bruised ribs in the first half against the Colonels last week.

“It (was) painful,” Snell said. “I couldn’t bend over and put socks on or anteing like that. It was rough, but I’m here now and so I’m good.”

Through two games, Snell has rushed for 170 yards and is ranked seventh in the SEC. Snell is averaging 85 yards per game.

Wildcat woes: Through two games, Kentucky’s “wildcat” offense hasn’t matched the success as last season when Snell took several snaps under center. Although not as effective as a year ago, Gran hasn’t scrapped the non-traditional offensive scheme.

“It will always be in the game plan,” Gran said. “It just depends on how people are defending it. It’s always in the game plan.”

Snell said the Wildcats need to be more patient when it comes to executing the wildcat attack.

“It’s everybody doing their job,” he said. “I’ve got to be more patient. I’m definitely going to be more patient and make sure that I’m doing my part right.”

A possible option in the future is freshman kickoff and punt returner Lynn Bowden, who offered no hints earlier this week.

“That’s something for the spectators to see,” he said.

Raising the roof: The Kentucky coaching staff anticipates the season opener at Williams-Brice Stadium to be loud, very loud. In preparation for the noise, the Wildcats have been simulating it during practice this week.

“We’ll have a couple of days of loud noise and get it to where they can’t hear,” Gran said. “Now they’ve gotta communicate like that. Make it a 40 second clock, just like the game. We’ll try to make it as loud as we can. Usually we can’t hear. We can’t talk. We’ll try to make it as real as possible.”

Gametracker: Kentucky at South Carolina, Saturday, 7:30 p.m. TV/Radio: SEC Network, 98.1 FM, WBUL, Lexington.

Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at Keith.taylor@kentuckytoday or twitter @keithtaylor21.

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