Kentucky Team News

Kentucky OC Eddie Gran: QB Stephen Johnson improving his accuracy

Stephen Johnson

Kentucky’s passing accuracy wasn’t always there in 2016. In preseason camp, though, quarterback Stephen Johnson has been better at finding his target.

Offensive coordinator Eddie Gran said Johnson has improved his delivery of mid-range passes, part of a news conference after Tuesday’s practice posted online by the athletic department.

Asked about Johnson’s biggest improvement since the start of 2016, Gran had a quick answer.

“I would say right now his intermediate passes,” Gran said, “getting those better, on stride, not behind them.”

Accuracy plagued Johnson at times last season. After taking over for injured starter Drew Barker, Johnson completed only 54.7 percent of his passing attempts (145-of-265), finishing with 13 touchdowns and six interceptions as UK relied heavily on the run.

As one sign of his improvement, Gran pointed to a completion in practice to tight end C.J. Conrad. He said that connection highlighted Johnson’s improved technique.

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Johnson also said that he has focused his energy on refining his technique.

“I worked on that a lot, actually. Just getting with the receivers over the summer … staying after practice, getting extra work, just to try to get those intermediate and short routes down,” Johnson said. “That was something I struggled with last year.”

Gran said true freshman receiver Lynn Bowden, who was cleared by the NCAA to join the team last week, is “swimming” as he tries to catch up with the details of the offensive playbook. “He’s trying to get six practices in one,” Gran said. “And that’s really hard.”

In the big picture, Gran said the offense has been performing better of late, reaching a high point on Saturday’s open practice. Compared to spring practice, when Gran memorably said the team looked like it had been drinking “bad Kool-Aid,” that’s a significant improvement.

“We were sharp and had the least amount of mental assignments, missed assignments on that day, the least amount of lows,” Gran said. “As a group, we only had eight. And in a full practice, that’s winning football.”

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