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March 20, 2012

Joker Phillips

THE MODERATOR:  Right now I introduce head coach Joker Phillips.
COACH PHILLIPS:  How you guys doing?  First of all, I've already talked and sent texts to Gary and his staff.  Those guys had an amazing weekend.  Actually the whole UK athletics, it was a really a good weekend watching both our basketball teams perform and this baseball team, which we're No. 2 in the country?  One poll, we're No. 2 (laughter).  I'm excited about what those guys are doing.
I'm also excited about spring football beginning, especially with the way we finished off.  We felt the last two games, the way we played at Georgia, the way we played, came up short, but at Tennessee.  The thing that makes you really excited is seeing those young guys out there flying around.  When you look out there, there was a ton of young true freshmen making plays on both sides of the football, majority of defense.  Getting to see some of the young guys.  We're excited about getting back on the field as a football team.
Also excited about what Coach Oliver has been doing in the weight room with some of these guys, weight gains and weight losses we've had since January when they returned back.  But they've done a really good job.  I think a lot of that had to do with the way we finished in the last couple games.
The injury report.  Morgan Newton will not be throwing.  He'll be going through the quarterback drills, but will not throw this spring.  Collins Ukwu will be out.  Not even go through drills.  He's had labrum surgery.  Worrying about him slipping or falling, doing something like that, re‑aggravating it.  He will be out, just be rehabbing with [] Coach Matalino (phonetic) and Coach Oliver.
Josh Clemons, we'll see the daily activities of practice, how he goes.  We'll put him through some of the drills, but he'll be a guy that we'll have to watch real closely.
Jabari Johnson will only go through the drills.  And Gene McCaskill had a little swelling during the off‑season in his knee, has a little swelling, it's now gone away.  He'll be a guy that's a day‑to‑day guy for us also.
Joe Mansour will not practice tomorrow.  He has Strep throat, so he'll be out tomorrow with his illness.
Offensively, we've got to find out first of all again this year who the play‑makers are at the wide receiver position and have a little bit more consistency at the quarterback position.
Offensive line we do lose a couple of guys up front.  But I feel really good with the way Darrian Miller performed for us last year.  He's now at 306 and looks like a left tackle in this league is supposed to look like.  Zach West is a guy that had a good off‑season, gained 9 pounds, up to 305.  Larry Warford shedded some pounds, which was much needed, shedded about 16 pounds, and looks really, really good, moving really well.
Kevin Mitchell is another guy that beefed himself up to 300.  He goes back and forth.  Sometimes he decides he wants to be a skinny guy, then a big guy.  He knows how to control his weight.
Shaq Love, really excited about this young prospect.  He's at 301.  Trevino Woods is up to 292.  Teven Eatmon probably needs to come down a little bit.  He had a death in the family and some illness that he was not working in the groups as much as the other guys.
Other guys on offense is Ronnie Shields, who I'm really excited about.  When you start talking about play‑makers at the wide receiver position, the thing that we feel like we have an opportunity, we have some guys that we could put in there, some of the tight ends.  If we had to play with two or three tight ends, we'll do that, because of some of the development of some of these guys.
Ronnie Shields up to 245, 14 pounds since January, and he's really moving around well.  If we have to play with an extra tight end, we will, just because of what we have at the tight end position.
CoShik Williams is up 10 pounds also.  Done a really good job in the off‑season.  So has D.J. Warren.  Excited about those two guys also.
On the defensive side of the football, another year in this defense is helping us understand how the defense works.  We're trying to get our best personnel on the field.  We have, again, a good young group.  Mike Douglas up to 265, Farrington Huguenin up to 266.  Big end for us.  Travaughn Paschal is 258.  Collins Ukwu who did not work as much with Coach Oliver is at 261.  Our big end position is starting to look like a big end position.  Those guys are starting to get some beef on them.
Cobble is at 332, which is down.  Again, a guy that can hold point for us.  But he's really good with his hands and leverage.  Coleman is 298.  Rumph is 303.  The best shape I've ever seen the big fella in.  You worry when he went away for a week and came back after spring break.  We all been on spring break before.  But watching the big fella come back, took the plan that Coach Oliver and his staff gave him during the break, came back, and I was really pleased with the way the guy ran.  He ran really well all winter, but then watching him come back yesterday and run up and down the field, not a guy that's leaning over, looks like he's about to take his last breath anymore.  Running, standing up, breathing the right way, looking like he could play the next play.  Before it hasn't been that way.
Dupree, another one of those young guys we talked about, excited about in the last couple games, flying around, making plays.  He's now 255.  That's what outside backers are supposed to look like.  He gained about 20 pounds since he's been here.  He's running really well.  Justin Henderson also played that rush end for us.  He's at 245.  We also have some flexibility with putting Taylor Wyndham at that position, who will play at that position.
Again, the concern was the linebacker position and the rush end is one of those linebacker positions that you feel a little bit better about because of Dupree's production in the last couple games.  But the other three linebacker positions, Avery Williamson, a solid player for us last year in a backup role, who actually rotated.  It started off every two series.  As he got comfortable, started every other series we and Sneed, who is 242 right now, one of the better leaders on this football team.  Malcolm McDuffen is up to 228, will play the will linebacker.  We'll start off with Rancifer backing him up.  He's at 232.  Tim Patterson is at 248.
The Sam back, Winston Guy played for us last year, we'll start off with Miles Simpson, who is now 228.  Corey Brown, a new guy that came to us in the winter, he will start off at that position.  Real excited about him.  Real excited about this guy because of the look in his eyes, a guy that takes care of his business on and off the field.
Also Josh Forrest will also play at that position.  Josh is now at 234.  Looks really good, moving around well.  We just got to get him to understand the position and how to play the position of defense.
The secondary, a lot of people have more concerns than we do.  Cartier Rice, looks like we lost both corners, but Cartier was a guy who rotated.  Again, he was a guy that started off every two series during the season.  Felt like he was playing as good as even the starters.  He began to take every other series.  So I feel like Cartier is one of those guys that was a starter for us.  I think that's enough confidence that we are showing in him that he is a starter.
Marcus Caffey is a guy we'll move to corner.  He was a heavily recruited guy as a quarterback/corner.  Some people were recruiting him as a corner.  You can't scare them away.  But we promised him a chance to play at the tailback position, we did.  But we feel like his best opportunity to help this football team in a hurry, although he could be a tailback, but we feel like his best chance to help this team in a hurry, make us a better football team is at the corner position.  Gives us some size.
You look out there last year, we were hurting 70 pounds on both corners.  Hard to hold up against the guys we have to play.  This guy is 200 pounds right now, about six foot and a half, moves really well.  Excited about him.
Neloms is a guy that could be a swing guy for us.  He's at the free safety, will be backed up by Glenn Faulkner.  Again, another young guy that as we put the film on the last couple games we saw running down making plays on special teams, starting to get confidence, takes care of business on and off the field.  We want to try to get him as many reps as we possibly can.  Having Neloms to move to the corner some will get us the opportunity to get this guy some reps.
Mikie Benton is the quarterback of this unit, of the whole defense, a guy that can get everybody lined up, did a good job of making plays.  He'll be backed up by Ashely Lowery, another one of those young guys who is now 212 pounds, making plays, returning kicks for us, doing things we asked him to do on and off the field also.
The specialists, the return game is a position that we have to find out if this person is on our team right now.  We got a few candidates.  We got to get Gene McCaskill as a returner, see if Lowery can develop as a returner.  At the kicking position, Mansour, who will be out tomorrow, will line up as a punter with the Willmott kid from Scott County.  We feel good about the kicking position with McIntosh.  We have two really good young snappers that we feel good about.
I think that our kicking position, if we can find out who other punter will be, that will be hard to replace a guy like we had who just left the office, a couple teams to work him out.  Tells you he was a pretty good punter because those guys don't usually come chasing the punters a lot.  There are a lot of teams here very interested in him.
We've been fortunate that we've had some good punters here in the last I guess you could say eight years with Masthay and the guy that just left.  We feel good about what we've had here.  We have to find out who our next guy is.
Any questions?

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH PHILLIPS:  He's done a good job of coming back in here, getting back into the mix.  The thing that he has to do is show us and show his teammates how committed he is to this thing.  He's a guy that left right when we all were excited about him.  I mean, a lot of fans were excited about him also.
He has to show us, his teammates, that he's committed to really wanting to be here.  I think that's important.  He has to do it in the off‑season.  Can't do it during the season, you have to do it now.

Q.  (Question regarding Daryl Collins)?
COACH PHILLIPS:  Daryl will be full speed.  His injury happened in training camp last year.  He's another guy on the return game, we got to find out.  He's a guy we were excited about before the injury.  The injury occurred late in camp.  He missed a whole season.
Another guy also that needs to step it up at the wide receiver position, especially as an inside wide receiver for us.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH PHILLIPS:  We moved Cobbins that's going to move over there.  Again, another guy that we have to try in the return game, athletic enough to play out there.  The thing we have to do is find out if his knowledge level is going to allow him to play out there.
I know a lot of times people think it's easy for a quarterback to go out there that has been in this offense but is still tough with all the movement, all the things that you see out there.  He should know how to run routes, but now he has to learn the techniques of it.
He and Cunningham are two big bodies that we have to find out if they can help us.  That's what this spring is about.

Q.  Who do you anticipate will be the backup quarterback in drills?
COACH PHILLIPS:  The young Russell kid who is a guy we kept talking about in fall camp last year.  Actually whole season last year.  He's done a good job this off‑season.  Hard‑working guy.  He's a guy that lives in the film room.  Really good weight room guy.  He'll be the guy that's getting the backup reps at the quarterback position.
Morgan will be in the drills.  He will not throw.  He'll hand off, do our inside drills.  We really have three quarterbacks in spring, but only two of them throwing.  Still got that Woodson kid, though.  He can still throw some drills for us.

Q.  How many true freshmen will you be counting on this fall?
COACH PHILLIPS:  It's hard to say.  We feel this class we have coming in next year, we feel like it's probably a little deeper than the one, the true freshmen on our campus right now.  We feel like there probably will be more than last year.  Counting on a couple guys in the secondary.  We count on a couple of tailbacks to be able to help us.
It's hard to say you can count on the offensive linemen.  But I think you got to try to find out if you can count on them to be backups for you, at least, similar to Darrian Miller from last year.
Special teams‑wise you got to try to count on a couple of them, especially the linebackers and the secondary guys.  We need help in the special teams.  We need to field some positions.  Danny and Winston was huge for us in the special teams area.  We got to find out if Avery can help us in the special teams areas, which he always has done, but now he can do it as a full‑time starter?  That's what we got to find out.  If he can't, some of the true freshmen have to help us.

Q.  You don't replace a Danny, but...
COACH PHILLIPS:  Well, you do.  We replaced Sam Maxwell, Danny Trevathan.  We have to find out if Avery, McDuffen can replace Danny.  You remember, Danny didn't play a lot of football before his breakout season as a junior.  This is Avery's junior season.  Avery played a lot more football than Danny.  McDuffen played a lot more football than Danny did at this same stage.
We've got to replace him.  That's no knock on Danny because he's done an outstanding job, but we've got to replace him.  Everybody is replaceable.  Everybody better understand that.  I understand that and they better understand that.  Everybody's replaceable.

Q.  (Question regarding Dupree.)
COACH PHILLIPS:  We think so.  He's got the size, speed, knowledge.  He's a guy we can line up at a lot of different positions.  This is a true freshman we're talking about.  He hasn't finished his first full year of his freshman season of college.  He was a guy we lined up as a rush end, rushed him, got in our three‑down stuff, pass‑rushing specialist.  He's done a lot of things.  We lined him up as an inside backer in the Tennessee game.  Brought him inside.  This guy has a chance to be a really good player for us.

Q.  (No microphone.)

Q.  (No microphone.
COACH PHILLIPS:  We'd love to have him here already, but we don't.  There's plenty of time.  There's plenty of time.  Masthay came in here as a true freshman, went through a few growing pains.  At the end of the year he was a good punter for us.
The thing we have to do with the high school punters that come in here for us is speed their operation up.  Coach Nord has been working with him.  I think that will help him in getting him ready for the season for us.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH PHILLIPS:  I have not since the dismissal.  Disappointing.  I mean, we hold our kids accountable.  We do a good job of holding our kids accountable for their actions.  We know kids than don't always make the right decisions.  When they don't, we have to take action.  We've done that.  Haven't had to do that a lot here, we haven't.  But when they don't make good decisions, I think we've done a really good job of holding them accountable for their actions.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH PHILLIPS:  I'm sorry, which Johnson?

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH PHILLIPS:  Finds those hospitality rooms doesn't he (laughter)?
You know, that's a lot of pressure to put on a kid.  Can Patrick handle it?  Yes, I think he can handle it, the pressure, because he's been groomed for it.  He comes from an athletic family, athletic background.  But still a lot of pressure.  We're hoping that he can come in here and contribute.  We'll try to put some packages together for him to help him, as early as we possibly can, to give him a chance to play fast for us.
That's the thing, that's the key at that position:  you got to be able to play fast, see things faster, the speed of the game.  I always say the biggest adjustment that a high school kid has to understand, the speed at which the game is played.  They have to understand the speed at which those professors teach, a lot faster.  They also have to figure out the speed at which a good time over in the dorm can turn into a bad time.  Those are the things I tell our kids about the word 'speed.'  So that's the key for Patrick.  He has to find out how fast things happen at this level.

Q.  Do you expect to see him around here?
COACH PHILLIPS:  We do.  He'll be in, especially for some of the weekend scrimmages that we have, just try to get him familiar.
The thing is, one of the things I've done as a coordinator is try to spit out plays to a quarterback so can he give it back to me, see how fast.  A lot of the verbiage is the hardest thing the kid has to learn.  The power‑play is the power‑play, regardless.  Outside zone is outside zone.  Inside zone is inside zone.  How do we say it?  That's one of the things we'll work on with Patrick, having him repeating some of the calls.  He doesn't have to know them right now, he just needs to understand how to give them back to us.
I think that helps your confidence in the huddle, okay?  That helps your confidence in the huddle, helps you sell the play.  As you guys know, that's what we had to do with Andre' Woodson, Get in there and sell the play for us.  I think it's important that Patrick really understand what he's saying and how to sell it when he's in there.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH PHILLIPS:  First of all, again, two local guys that kind of cling together as soon as they walked on campus.  I was just talking to them in the sauna the other day.  They were both headed going down fishing.  I think that's good.  They going to play ideas off each other.  I think it's good they get to know each other a little bit better.  They need to learn how to touch each other.  Offensive line, you better understand what he's doing.  They have to be hip‑to‑hip to work on double‑teams, how to step with the right foot.  I think it's important that they are close enough to communicate that way.
Both bodies have changed.  The way they talk to you is a little bit different.
Darrian was a little bit more of a shy kid.  Same with Zach.  They now got the good look in their eyes that you want from a college athlete.  That's one of the biggest ways you change.

Q.  (Question regarding the win over Tennessee.)
COACH PHILLIPS:  I haven't looked at it that way.  I had a chance to gauge what it meant to our players.  Again, especially our young players, our young players, watching those young guys.  As we showed highlights of the game after the game, in the locker room, those guys felt a sense of accomplishment.  I think that was really big for us going into this off‑season.
I think a lot of it had to do with the way the game went also.  We had to convince those wide receivers, You're probably not going to get the ball.  Forward passer is going to be behind the line.  That's about as good as it was going to get.  Just watching how in the middle of the week how excited those guys were for Matt.  I think that brought this team a little bit closer together.  We always talk about playing great defense, running the football, protecting the football, how we win.  It all worked out that way.
I think there was a sense of understanding how we have to win here.
Yeah, there's going to be times we have to win and score 40 points, but sometimes you got to win that‑a‑way.  I think that's what helped us going into this off‑season.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH PHILLIPS:  We will.  Yeah, that's a good question.  We will have Matt Smith will miss on Wednesdays.  He's doing student teaching.  Therefore, what we will do is we'll move Larry Warford into center, which is probably his natural position, and we will give the two young pups a chance to get reps at the guard.  I think that's going to work out well for us.
Now we get Zach West, Teven to get first‑team reps playing beside Larry.  Both of them will be playing beside Larry and playing beside the two tackles they'll be playing with also.  We're using that as a plus, not a negative.  Matt Smith, we know he can play.  We know Larry can play, which we had someone else to put in there at center.  But we feel like this gives us our best chance of getting those two guys ready to play for the season.
Thank you, guys.

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