It's been a rare mild August in Lexington. Kentucky football players have been beneficiaries of the unseasonably pleasant weather throughout fall camp, but it's starting to feel like summer again.
Players might be groaning at high temperatures climbing into the 90s, but not Joker Phillips. He thinks the hotter weather couldn't be any more timely.
"It's right on time," Phillips said. "We had really good weather throughout the training and the hot weather's coming right at the right time. Some of them are feeling it, but we got to push through it."
It's not that Phillips wants his players to suffer...well, actually he kind of does, but not because of the suffering itself. He wants the Wildcats to have to cope with uncomfortable heat because of what it can do to prepare them for moments when they'll be tired and feeling like letting up.
"We got to understand why we have to be in this type of weather also," Phillips said, "so that when we get in the fourth quarter down seven, 64 yards to go, two minutes and 27 seconds left, we're flawless."
The heat also helps to separate the men from the boys, which is making some depth chart decisions easier. UK's starters are written in pencil at the moment, to be finalized on Monday when a formal depth chart is released.
One battle that's been particularly heated this preseason is at weakside linebacker, where Malcolm McDuffen came in as the projected starter. However, converted quarterback Tyler Brause has put together an excellent fall to grab hold of the job as of Friday. No matter who wins the job, both Brause and McDuffen can expect to play extensively, which is the case at multiple positions.
"We're going to play a lot of people because a lot of people deserve to play," Phillips said.
The other big news that came out of Friday's practice was the naming of offensive and defensive captains. Defensive end Collins Ukwu and center Matt Smith each won votes among their peers by narrow margins in the closest race Phillips can remember.
Cornerback Martavius Neloms and guard Larry Warford will be game captains for UK's opener against Louisville.
"That makes you feel really good when their peers nominated them to be captains and also be that close to being captains," Phillips said. "I feel good about the leadership at the top. I've said that from day one."
Phillips also announced on Friday that junior tight end Anthony Kendrick will be academically ineligible. He will practice on the scout team while he works to regain his eligibility during this fall semester.