Kentucky-Florida Postgame Quotes

Sept. 24, 2011

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Kentucky Head Coach Joker Phillips

COACH PHILLIPS: Injury report:  Martavius Neloms had a concussion; Josh Clemons, hamstring; Winston Guy, bruised ribs; and Mychal Bailey had a bruised forearm.  X-rays were negative.

For five minutes in the game we looked like a pretty good football team, and then the things that we had been doing in the past started showing up, turnovers, giving short fields, three short fields and turnovers -- actually two short fields on turnovers and another turnover for a touchdown to give them 28.  We did a good job of getting the momentum back on our side right before the half and then coming out of halftime.  We've been there before.  We've been down before at half and got a chance to get the momentum back right before the half, and we get the ball back and we move the ball -- we did move the football, we pinned them back and gave them a -- let them off the hook by giving up a big run.

But they are fighting.  Our kids are fighting, scratching and clawing.  We're just not playing very smart.  They'll continue to fight.  I believe in those guys, but we've got to get some things corrected, and this begins with me.

Any questions?

Q.  What do you think needs to be corrected?

COACH PHILLIPS:   Well, we've got to take care of the football.  We've got to understand field position.  You can't give many teams a short field and survive, but you definitely can't give a team like we just faced a short field and survive, and you definitely can't give it to them three straight times in the first quarter.

Q.  Did your kids lose confidence?

COACH PHILLIPS:   Well, I don't think they lose confidence because of the way they played.  I think they played hard.  I think it gets infectious sometimes when a mistake gets made, and then another one comes and another one comes.  But when you lose confidence, I think you start to see lows, you start to see guys strain.  I think our guys were definitely straining trying to make plays, and we saw that by the end of the half.  The end of the half we caused a turnover, offense punches it in, and then they have a chance.  If you lose confidence right at the end of the half when there's a minute and eight, the other team scores on you.  But our team continued to fight, and we caused a turnover to get out of the half and got the momentum back on our side, and come out at half, and like I said, gave them the big drive for the 99-yard touchdown.

But I don't think our guys lost confidence.

Q.  Talk about the mental mistakes.

COACH PHILLIPS:   You know, it's hard to say with the naked eye.  We have to go back and watch the tape.  You know, some of them are obvious.  I consider a fumble, an interception, those things, I consider those things mental mistakes, also.  Those are easy to see, glaring.  But what we've got to do is go back, look at the tape and make sure -- and there wasn't as many as last week, I can tell you that.  But if you play a team at that level, like this team we just played, you can't have mental mistakes and have a chance to win a game like this.

Q.  When you say things need to be corrected and it starts with you, what do you mean by that?

COACH PHILLIPS:   Turnovers.  That's a sloppy football team.  I've got to get this football team to know how precious, how precious the football is.  It puts a huge strain on your defense.  Our defense in the first half, when Florida had to drive the football, they gave up a field goal and they got them stopped the other times when they I've got to get this football team -- it's my job to get them to understand just how precious the football is and how precious field position is, keep people snapping the football, keep them snapping the football.  We've had very poor field position the last couple weeks, and we've given the opponents good field position, and that equals an L most of the time.

Q.  You guys are a third of the way into the season.  Where are you all right now?  How would you define your football team?

COACH PHILLIPS:   Well, we're 2- 2, I'll tell you that, and it's not a pretty 2-2, there's no doubt about that.  We're a football team that looks good at times, and definitely tonight there were some good things, and that's the thing that's lost in this.  We did some good things at times.  We threw the ball, we moved the football.

Again, if you've got a long ways to go, you've usually got a chance to make a mistake, and we made them, we did.  We had dropped footballs, dropped balls that can't show up.  But we've got a team that's battling, there's no question about that.  They're fighting and trying.  We've just got to get some mistakes corrected.

Q.  How do you think Maxwell Smith played?

COACH PHILLIPS:   Played as good as expected.  You're down the way we were down when he went in the game and he moved the ball, threw some nice passes.  He had a couple drops, also.  The game was a little fast for a guy going in the first game, especially you're going into an SEC game, so it's a little fast for him.  But I thought he handled himself well.  He'll learn from the few plays that he got in.

I think it's great experience for him, and he'll only be better because of the experience that he got tonight.

Q.  On Florida’s rushing offense …

COACH PHILLIPS:   Well, I mean, you give up a huge play like we did in the second half, that's a big one, and like I say, they did not have many series where they drove the football and scored touchdowns, so from the -- I don't care how many yards they get, the thing we can't put our defense in is in short fields.  We can't do that.  Late in the game we gave up a huge cut-back run that adds to that 400 yards.  But you can't let a team rush on you like that.  We've got to get them stopped.

The biggest play, I think, in the second half to me was when you've got them 3rd and 7 and they backed up coming off the 1-yard line, it's 3rd and 7, and they run the ball right at you for seven yards and get the 1st down.  That's a huge, huge play, and then two plays later they go 80-something yards for a touchdown.  We can't let teams run the football on us, but we also can't let them throw it over our heads.

Q.  Where is your level of frustration (with the receivers) right now?

COACH PHILLIPS:   Being an ex-receiver, ex-receiver coach, it's pretty high right now.  If you're going to play in this league, at this level, you've got to be able to catch the football.  We can't use the excuse that these guys have not been -- quarterbacks handle the ball every play, so expecting the guys to be able to handle it when it comes to them.  Pretty frustrating.  It's my job.  I've got to get it corrected because that, too, is the lack of how precious the football is when we've got it because you see a lot of balls bounce off receivers that end up in interceptions, and that's giving the ball up.  So you've got to secure the football when you have an opportunity.

Q.  At what point do you think Florida’s speed raised its ugly head?

COACH PHILLIPS:   I don't think it raised its head as much as the score indicates, because the first turnover had nothing to do with the speed.  I think we ran into the back of one of our own guys.  I'm not sure if we were even hit.  The first interception had nothing to do with speed.  Ball kind of got away from us.

Second interception didn't have anything to do with speed, okay, we turned a guy loose on the quarterback and backed up, and he hit his arm and the guy intercepts him.  I don't know if any of those things had anything to do with speed.

I think our mistakes was a huge indicator of what the score is.

Q.  Is the turnover problem a lack of discipline?

COACH PHILLIPS:   Definitely, definitely, and it's my job, also, to make sure we have discipline with the football.  You have to understand how important it is to finish the play with the football.

Q.  As a former receiver and you see drops, is it concentration or is it technique?

COACH PHILLIPS:   It's both.  It's both concentration, guys -- sometimes guys trying to make a play.  They're trying to catch and turn their head and run, but when you're struggling to catch the ball, you've got to squeeze the ball with not only your hands, your eyes -- you've got to squeeze it with your eyes, you've got to squeeze it with your hands, and then who cares how many yards you make after the catch.  We've got to catch the football.  We want to throw and catch the ball, okay.  We've been good here in the past at throwing and catching.  Right now we're not very good at it, not very good at throwing and catching, and we've got to get better at it.

Q.  How do you think Morgan Newton did?

COACH PHILLIPS:   I thought he moved the ball well, although one got away from him early in -- someone said it was tipped.  I'm not sure of that.  I just thought it got away from him.  But I thought he moved the ball well.

Again, we have got to run the football better to allow us to throw it a little bit more.  I know at half we had less than 100 yards.  We ended with 100 yards rushing, but again, we've got to run the football.  I thought he threw it, had command of the ball for the most part.  Again, we just can't put -- we can't be down 28 points and throwing him back out there and asking him to go win the game.  We've got to keep the score manageable, and a lot of that has to do with giving up the short fields that we did.

Q.  When Maxwell Smith went in, was that an opportunity to protect Morgan in a game like that?

COACH PHILLIPS:   I just think it was an opportunity to get a young guy in the game, also.  I would have had no problem with keeping Morgan in the game, but it's an opportunity to get Max Smith, which we sent some down the line this season.  He's got to go in the game.  So it was an opportunity for us to get him some reps, and again, he'll be a better player by getting this experience that he was able to get tonight.

Q.  Do you have a quarterback controversy?

COACH PHILLIPS:   No, no.  I mean, we don't have a quarterback controversy.  Max -- every opportunity we get to get Max in the game, we will, and we had an opportunity tonight.  If we're struggling at quarterback, we know that the guy can go in there and handle himself.  He did a decent job tonight, so this experience gives us that opportunity.

Q.  We've been watching the games with Florida for 25 or 30 years and it seems like there's always this kind of spread.

COACH PHILLIPS:   I wouldn't say that.  We've gotten close to these guys.

Q.  But in general it's been a pretty wide spread.  Is that coming any closer?

COACH PHILLIPS:   I don't think turnovers have anything to do with talent.  I don't think it has anything to do with talent.  You turn the ball over like this, it doesn't matter who you play.  The spread is going to be this big, the gap is going to be this big in the score.

Thank you, guys.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports

Offensive Coordinator Randy Sanders

Kentucky Players

#12, Morgan Newton, QB

On locker room atmosphere after the game …
“It was pretty good considering we just lost. We all competed, but we will watch film tomorrow, learn from our mistakes, and get better.”

On his and the team’s level of frustration …
“There is some frustration, but it is mostly because we know we can play better. We know there is always tomorrow, and we can continue to get better. We just have to keep fighting, keep battling and keep trying to improve as a team.”

On turnover problems …
“Turnovers will kill you. Especially when they are in short field, and good teams like Florida will capitalize on those types of turnovers.”

#11, Maxwell Smith, QB

On his first game experience…
‘”It felt great. I haven’t been hit in forever, and to finally get hit felt really good.”

On his performance …
“I thought I played pretty well. We moved the ball, did some good things. A couple mistakes, and that’s my fault, but other than that I think I did a pretty good job.”

On being nervous …
“A little bit. Coming in against Florida, you are going to have some nerves, but other than that I felt good. I was ready to get out there.”

#16 La’Rod King, WR

On if the turnovers were forced by Florida or mistakes …
“It’s a little bit of both, but I can’t recall it. It just can’t happen. We were struggling with that and we have to come out and be a first-half team. We are a second-half team, but that has to change.”

On putting this game behind them …
“We have to go on to the next game. There is always the next play. We need to go on to the next game because we have to prepare for LSU come tomorrow. We have to get our minds right and put this one behind us.”

On how to put the game behind them and build on their mistakes …
“When we move the ball, we are very good team. When we stop ourselves, that’s when we become frustrated and start losing a little bit of confidence. We have to bounce back and fix it come tomorrow. It’s really a mental game when it comes down to it.”

# 46 Ronnie Sneed, LB

On the game …
“It’s very disappointing. We always feel like we have a good shot at beating any team. When we come out and the score is run up, it gets under your skin and we just have to go back to the drawing boards and try to figure out what we did wrong and what we need to do to correct those issues.”

On how Florida’s speed showed itself …
“They were fast. Anytime you have any running back that can hit a big cutback like that, we were just all out of position and no one was really able to get back the way we needed to get back over there to make the tackle. With him having that speed made it that much worse.”

#69 Matt Smith, C

Florida Head Coach Will Muschamp

Opening Statement…
“I was really pleased to get the win on the road. We had a lot of players that had never played a road game in the SEC. Very pleased with how we responded in the game. The defense creating four turnovers, setting up for 24 points, rushing for 400 yards, having two backs over 100 yards, taking what the defense gives you, which Charlie has done a great job of in our first four games. Pleased with the turnovers and being able to run the football. This is a line-of-scrimmage league and you’ve got to be able to do that. We’re 4-0 and very pleased. We have a lot of things to work on but we are pleased with where we are.”

On Rainey’s 27-yard gain…
“To be honest, I didn’t see it. I was working with the secondary and then I heard the crowd and I kind of came up and saw the end of it, but he is a very good football player. He’s a heck of a player, nothing surprises me from him and I’m very glad he’s a Gator.”

On how tough it is to defend against guys like Rainey and Demps…
“The thing that concerns you is that Charlie does a great job of creating space plays for them that creates a lot of one on ones. One missed tackle against those two guys and they can take it the distance. They are great guys, have great speed, great in the open field, catch the ball well, run the ball hard, they are competitive and tough. They have all the intangibles that good football players have.

On Demps’ 84 yard run…
“He’s real fast. He looked like he was about to get caught so he was about to get a lot of grief when he got to the sideline if he had got caught. Jeff is a guy with a 3.5 GPA, he does everything you ask, he’s yes sir/no sir, works hard off the field and in the community, runs track and won a national championship. He’s a team guy and is always in a great mood. I don’t know what else I could say positively about him. He’s a great representative of our school.”

On the week of preparation leading up to the game…
“The preparation doesn’t change. We get ready and we go play the game. None of that changes. It’s just a matter of understanding that we will be in a different environment, hotel, and background. All the external factors are the things that concern a coach, but we seemed to handle all that well.”

Florida Players

#52, Jonathon Bostic, LB

On the defensive takeaways…
“We’ve been looking for that all year. It’s what we’ve been practicing. We needed it to translate to the game.”

On leading the team in tackles for this game…
“The defensive line up in front of me they were holding up double teams and doing their job. Basically, they freed me up.“

On how this game compared to others…
“There really wasn’t a big difference. We’re still going out there and playing aggressive. We keep a lot of energy out there.“

#84, Quinton Dunbar, WR

On what happened with the team after John Brantley was injured…
“We just had to keep rolling. We had to go with the next quarterback in line. We had to put him in and keep going. When we put [Jeff Driskel] in, he didn’t miss a beat. Everybody makes mistakes and whatnot, but if somebody goes down then somebody has to come in a pick up the slack.”

On seeing the passing attack be more vertical during this game…
“We had to take what the defense gave us. If they loaded the box, we had to spread the field. We just had to figure out what to take advantage of.”

On John Brantley’s role on the team…
“He’s really important. He’s a leader, he’s been here and he’s played in these games. He’s seen a lot of playing time and he knows the in’s and out’s. He’s a key person since he’s our quarterback. He runs the offense so he plays an important role.”

# 7 Ronald Powell, BUCK

On the three early takeaways …
“We met our goal on takeaways tonight. We definitely should have done more, but we did touch the quarterback.”

On the difference of takeaways from each game …
“We came in to the game putting emphasis on the takeaways. We always say when we get takeaways, we win ball games. That was a challenge we got from our coaches and we met that challenge.”

On Jaye Howard’s touchdowns….
“He’s an older guy and works hard. Good things happen to people like him and he definitely deserves it.”

#22 Matt Elam, S

On the difference between getting takeaways tonight compared to other games …
“Nothing really different, pretty much the same things. Basically watch the quarterback and always keep my eyes on him. He’s going to throw me the ball if I will be patient.”

On the dropped interceptions from last game…
“We work on catching drills every day. Nothing different, just practice on it every day.”

On interception responsibilities …
“I got the deep throat and I had to cover the whole field. I had to keep my eye on the quarterback and see where he was throwing the ball. I watched to see when he would over throw balls and they would just land in my hand.”