Coaching Profile: New faces arrive on sideline in 2016

Offensive coordinator, Eddie Gran during the UK Football annual spring football game at Commonwealth Stadium. Saturday, April 16, 2016 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Joel Repoley | Staff.

Chris Angolia

When offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson left UK this past offseason, the Big Blue Nation knew that there would be turnover on the offensive end when it comes to coaching, and that is exactly what happened.

Coach Stoops made three big changes to his offensive staff bringing in Darin Hinshaw, Eddie Gran and Lamar Thomas.

Hinshaw, who spent his last three years at The University of Cincinnati, will be tasked with the job of dealing with the quarterbacks as well as being co-offensive coordinator with Gran. Both Hinshaw and Gran were together at Cincinnati the past three years, reaching a bowl game in each season.

A 29-year veteran, Gran has coached at numerous major programs including Ole Miss, Auburn, Tennessee and Florida State, specializing in the running backs position.

For Gran, he has a very talented position group that he will be working with this upcoming season. With Boom Williams, Jojo Kemp, Mikel Horton and Sihiem King at his disposal, Gran has clearly been influencing the group with knowledge that will only improve a skilled core of running backs.

Something that has become evident with Gran is his knack for perfection. Throughout camp he has stressed getting the most out of his offense and making sure that it does its job.

“Every possession ends in a kick, kick a PAT, kick a field goal or punt. Keep our defense in it, keep our special teams in it, we can’t go out and lose it, and you do that by turnovers, so we just have to take care of the ball,” Gran said. 

Related: Offense looks ready at close of fall camp

The change in coaching also means new schemes, and this marks UK’s third new offense in many years. With the changing of the offense, returning players now have to adapt to a new system. Wide receiver Garrett Johnson is a perfect example of how things have changed in fall camp.

“Night and day from the spring, he’s playing faster, making plays. Exactly what we needed,” Gran said about Johnson. “When we left the spring we said he was one of the guys that we needed to come on this summer and he worked his tail off.”

Johnson has also had to adapt not only to a new offense, but a new position coach in the form of Lamar Thomas from in-state rival Louisville. Thomas, a former receiver in the NFL, may be familiar to some because of his personality on Twitter. Like Gran, he too has a talented position group to work with that includes Johnson, Dorian Baker and Ryan Timmons.

Thomas has used his past experiences in the NFL to help instill a theme of completion throughout fall camp that became very evident among the receivers.

“The competition only makes the team better, and when your competing at one position, other positions pick it up and see the competition and it just carries over to the game and if you compete out here on the practice field, you will compete in the game,” Thomas said.

Related: Takeaways from Coach Stoops comments after open practice

With Hinshaw, Gran and Thomas in control of the majority of the offense, things are going to be different. Those three, along with the rest the offensive coaching staff have a lot of talent to work with at their various position groups and it will be very important this year that Gran and company get the most out of the Cats’ offense in 2016.