Kentucky-Mississippi State Postgame Quotes

Oct. 29, 2011

Recap | Box Score | Notes | Photo Gallery  | AP Photo Gallery 

Head Coach Joker Phillips

COACH PHILLIPS: The injury situation is Morgan Newton has a right shoulder and right ankle. Looks like it's a high ankle sprain. We'll take a look at it tomorrow. After the half, he thought he could go back in, but we were just afraid of him not being able to protect himself. So did not put him back in.

Anthony Mosley during the scuffle got punched in the diaphragm and missed the first half. It was after the first or second touchdown.

Then (Donte) Rumph has a left knee. That's the injury situation.

Hard-fought game. Defensively three turnovers that they created, and no turnovers that we gave up offensively usually equals a win. I think we were like 5-0 when we hadn't turned the football over. We actually got three. You got to explain you're playing to win to your football team when you create that many turnovers and don't give up any and not win.

Well, it's easy. It's simple. Too many big plays that we gave up. It was three 80-yard drives. If you talk about the drive chart, we talked about that this week, it's hard for people to drive on anyone, and we gave up three of them today. A lot of them came with big plays. When you drive 80 yards, there's usually some big plays involved.

In one of the 80 yards, there were four plays, so it's got to be big plays. We gave up a big play, a big pass, touchdown in the end zone.

Then offensively we had a chance for short fields with the turnovers that the defense gave us, and we only got six points out of it. Then we got the ball down again in the second half and only got three, which gives us nine points.

Got to get the ball in the end zone, got to find some way to put it in the end zone. That's how we have to explain, when we're talking about playing to win, get turnovers, run the football. We rushed for 118 yards, which is better than we had been. But there were some clean runs. When you talk about playing to win, you got to explain why. The reason why was the things I just talked to you about.

Q. On quarterback Maxwell Smith…

COACH PHILLIPS: Played outstanding. He had 33 attempts, 26 completions. He took some big hits, picked himself off the ground, came back in, stood in there and made some other big throws.

Proud of him. That's what we talk about every day. When someone goes down, the next guy's got to step up and go in and compete, even if it's a freshman. He's one of those guys that's a freshman and he did a good job going in there and competing.

The spring helped him, giving him a chance to do that. Him being here in spring, fall camp. Also the opportunities that he's had to go in the game this year.

Q. Do you think Matt Roark’s performance was a result of Maxwell Smith throwing a more catchable ball?

COACH PHILLIPS: I wouldn't say that. I mean, we threw the ball. One of our deals that we wanted to do, like I said, when you're struggling to get separations vertically down the field, is to throw more crossing routes, things where you can run away from people. We usually do that with his position. His position is usually the one that's running the crossing routes. We were able to hit some of those routes.

Q. Did Maxwell play his way into making a decision?

COACH PHILLIPS: We have to make some type of a decision, yes. He played good enough that we got to make a decision on that, right.

Q. On going for it, instead of kicking the third field goal…

COACH PHILLIPS: I did consider it. We needed some points, down 21-6. It was still early in the second half is the reason why we decided to kick the field goal, because it was early in the second half. We thought we'd have more opportunities.

The thing that happened to us is every time we scored, they would come back down and score touchdowns. We'd kick a field goal, get three. Got us to 7-3. They would come right back and get it 14-3. We would get another field goal, six. They would come right down the field and make it 21-6. The field goal, like I say, it was early in the second half, early enough in the second half we thought, Let's get away from here with some points. They come right down the field and get the score to 28-9.

Q. What about on that last drive? Were you thinking about going for two right there?

COACH PHILLIPS: The last one, it was 16-28. We were down 12. You need two touchdowns. We would have kicked the field goal to make it 23-28. We still needed a touchdown.

Q. Did you think about going for two at all when you scored the touchdown?

COACH PHILLIPS: No. We wanted to try to wait till we got in the fourth quarter to go for two.

Q. Did you find some play-makers tonight?

COACH PHILLIPS: My backs ran good, made some plays for us. We didn't make as many plays down the field as we would have liked to. We did catch the ball and run for yardage which, again, we have to try to run away from people to try to get separation. Like I say, we haven't made many plays down the field vertically when people are playing man-to-man. We got to try to run away from them. Running away is across the field.

Q. Despite the loss, do you see some improvements with the offense?

COACH PHILLIPS: We made some improvements. We showed some improvement offensively. Obviously not enough to win this game because we didn't get the ball in the end zone, had to kick three field goals. But it's something that we have to build off of.

We ran the ball at times efficient. But, like I say, we got to get the ball in the end zone. In this league, you can't settle for three field goals.

Q. Are the black jerseys gone forever?

COACH PHILLIPS: I don't think we need to see them next week.

Q. Did you think they could hurt you today passing the ball?

COACH PHILLIPS: No. We were so conscious of the run because that's what they had done against us. I think at the half they had 75 yards rushing but 170 something like that passing. Again, they took advantage of us loading the box up and then hurt us with the pass.

Q. Did you scale back the playbook for Maxwell Smith?

COACH PHILLIPS: A little bit, at first, until he got that deer in the headlight look in his eyes. Got hit a couple times. We just gave him more of it.

Q. Did they surprise you with their gameplan?

COACH PHILLIPS: No, no. I mean, they threw the ball vertically down the field a little bit. They're a big play-action team. They're not a drop-back team. They hit us with some play-actions because they run the ball so well. Linebackers have to pay attention to the play fakes, how they get behind you with the tight ends and the wide receivers.

Q. Did Maxwell Smith struggle any picking up blitzes or calling protections at the line of scrimmage?

COACH PHILLIPS: You know, he struggled a little early with those things. He took a couple hits that are his hits. We just don't have enough people, didn't change the protection. But, again, he picked himself up and went back the next play, made big plays for us.

He's got to get better at that. And usually the backup quarterback, especially a young backup quarterback, he needs to get hit a couple times till he starts paying a little more attention, starts to prepare himself like he's a starter. I think Maxwell will do that because he's going to have an opportunity to compete for the start be job.

Q. How do you feel momentum-wise going forward?

COACH PHILLIPS: Well, we lost the football game. So, you know, we saw a movie last night, something to do with the time. In football, time is precious because in this game of football, it's different than basketball where you can play basketball, pickup basketball until you're 40, 50 years old, same with baseball players, they go and play softball. At football, you don't have a lot of time. Time is precious in this game, very precious. You only get 60 minutes. We do get to get 60 minutes back on our clock that leads into the next week. We've got to take advantage of the time we have in this game.

Yes, we did improve. But there needs to be even more improvement for us to line up and win SEC games.

Q. Were you surprised with the lack of experience that Max (Smith) has that he played so well? Were you expecting this?

COACH PHILLIPS: Lack of experience? He hadn't played very well in the first couple games that he's gotten a chance to play. But this was a different game. He went in and competed, made some throws early. Gave him some easy throws, gave him some confidence. He threw some little quick screens. Once he got settled in, we were able to get into our drop-back passing game.

We brought Max here because we thought he was a good player. So you expect it every time they go out. We just haven't seen it in the few games he's been in. We're glad to see it show up tonight.

Q. What did you think of Danny Trevathan’s performance?

COACH PHILLIPS: Danny is a warrior. Danny shows up to play. He's a guy that shows up every week. He's a guy that hurts after every game because he puts so much into this game. He understands how precious the time is, football time is. That's why it hurts him so much. That's why he plays so hard, because he understands that you only get so many opportunities in this game.

Q. With Matt Roark, were you worried about his self-esteem getting down?

COACH PHILLIPS: You know, you do worry about a kid's confidence when he's had some games like Matt has had. But you immediately turn to his special teams play. It hasn't affected him because of the way he's flying down the field on the special teams. The guy was always the first guy on the kickoff team. He's not the fastest guy out there either. Not the fastest guys on that team. He was always the first guy to get down there. He was always the first guy on the punt cover team.

So when you watch his special teams play, you knew that his self-confidence was not down. We knew he had a chance to continue to help us this year.

Q. Do you think Morgan will be available next week?

COACH PHILLIPS: Don't know. Like I say, we got to check him out tomorrow. Again, he thought he could have went back in in the second half. We had him do some drop-backs a little bit and throw the ball on the sideline. We were worrying about him being able to protect himself.

Thank you, guys.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports

Co-Defensive Coordinator Rick Minter

Offensive Coordinator Randy Sanders

Kentucky Players

#11 Maxwell Smith, QB

On the difference between tonight and the last few weeks …
“I felt a lot better and a lot more relaxed. The thing about having that experience in those first two games where I didn’t play well was huge. It was really big.”

On his night overall in his mind …
“It started off a little shaky, and I actually messed up two plays. After that, I was good. My nerves definitely settled down, and I played pretty good.”

On what he did to get better this week …
“It kind of just all hit me. I was just seeing things a lot better than I was in the first two weeks. I spent a lot of extra time with Andre (Woodson) and coach (Randy) Sanders and he was explaining the stuff I was doing wrong, and I did a lot better job of that today.”

#40 Avery Williamson, LB

On what he saw in general tonight …
“There was just a lot of physical running. (Mississippi State) did not run as many trick plays as I thought they would. Some plays we just weren’t fundamentally sound. We just have to watch film and make corrections tomorrow.”

On if the defense was ready for the two-quarterback system …
“Yes, we knew they had two quarterbacks. We didn’t know who was going to start. We had in mind that Tyler Russell was going to start. We were prepared for both of them.”

On what he expected Mississippi State’s offense to do …
“We knew at the start that they were going to try to throw it a lot. We knew what they were going to try and air it out.”

#3 Matt Roark, WR

On how it feels to play this well …
“It felt good to have a good game and have some career firsts for me, but it was a loss, so I’m still down about that, and I will be for a while.”

On what he thought was working today …
“I don’t know. I think I just came out ready to play. I didn’t waste any time, and just got right to it.”

On if the main difference between tonight and the beginning of the year is mental …
“It’s a lot mental. You have to have a lot of focus. That was a big problem with me. I have been having a lot of trouble focusing early on in my career. I just started focusing on focusing.”

#22 Danny Trevathan, LB

On what he has to do to make this team better …
“I just want to be a great leader and create great players. I just want to play with these guys and create great memories. I just want to be the best player that I can be and try to stay humble and put my best foot forward.”

On where the team goes from here …
“The season is not going like we planned, but great players stick in there. I am going to keep my best foot forward and I’m going to press. I am going to let all of the haters talk and just play my game.”

On creating turnovers but not winning the game …
“You have to win two phases of the game to have the outcome that we want, and the win that we want. Stuff happens. That’s SEC football. These are tough games. We have to just grind it out. We had a lot of guys step up today that didn’t really shock me, but shocked a lot of people. Little things like that are going to help us get better as the season goes on.”

#69 Matt Smith, C

On Maxwell Smith taking over for Morgan Newton…
“It’s tough. I remember my first time playing against Miami (Ohio). When you go in after an injury like that then you really don’t have time to think. You have to just go in and do what you know. We’ve been prepping him and he has done a great job catching on as a young quarterback. We’re comfortable with him. I’ve practiced with him so the snaps and everything had been practiced. We knew what we had to do and we knew that we had to cover for him because he is not going to know everything Morgan does because of his experience. He did a great job.”

On QB Maxwell Smith in the huddle…
“He is great. He’s always really poised in the huddle. When he makes his calls he makes sure he is assertive and lets us know that he has confidence. If he was back there second guessing himself that would be really iffy for us. When he makes a call, even if he’s wrong, he makes it with confidence.”

On Mississippi State’s defensive line…
“They are a great defensive line. Every year we play them we always talk about how there is something in the water down there in Mississippi because they are always coming after you and they are always one of the toughest teams in the SEC. But they still give us as much of a fight. They are very quick up front, they give us lots of different looks and their linebackers are always in and out so we never know what’s coming at us. We have to adjust to a lot of different things, they are a good defense.”

#87 Brian Adams, WR

On the game …
“It was definitely tough. It’s a game against an opponent that we lost to last year in the final minutes of the game. They are a good team. They are a great program. They were in the same situation as us, not winning an SEC game yet. This was a big game for us, but next week is also a big game for us. Ole Miss is a good team and we’re going to come out and play hard.”

On Maxwell Smith compared to his last appearances…
“His first game coming in was against No. 1 LSU, that’s a tough game to come in during as a freshman. He is learning, he has tremendous talent, he is young and will make mistakes. He did a good job tonight going through his progression and just playing, not thinking too much and just trusting in his ability. That’s what he did during the spring and I’m really excited about him.”

#16 La’Rod King, WR

On the play in the first half where he fumbled the ball after taking a big hit from a MSU defender …
“He just knocked the air out of me. I just got back up and played, things happen in a game. I’m not the kind of guy to just sit down and quit on my team. If I’m injured then I am, but if I’m just hurt then I’m going to keep playing.”

On if their defense was keying on him and if he had to work harder to get open than normal …
“With Morgan going down and Max being in there, being a freshman in the SEC is no easy task. It’s not an issue of being open it’s just timing. You only have so much time to be open and if the timing isn’t right then it’s an incompletion.”

On the play and career game from wide receiver Matt Roark
“Your number is called and you make a play and that’s what he did. It took the pressure off Max. Everyone has been saying that we only have one receiver, but we have plenty of guys that are just young and inexperienced. Guys have to step up and make plays and that’s what they did.

Mississippi State Head Coach Dan Mullen

Opening statement…
“I’m proud of the way our guys played tonight. We made plays when we needed to make plays in the course of that game. Not our best game when you turn the ball over three times, a lot of things that we can correct, but I’ll tell you what, our kids played and made the plays they needed to. You give Kentucky credit, we had a good lead, they were battling back, they create that momentum, they kept fighting all the way right down to the very end. It comes down to a fourth-down play. They’re coming in to our nine-yard line – and you don’t know when that play’s going to be, but defensively that was going to be a game-changing play. We make the big stop, Corey (Broomfield) gets some pressure off the edge and forces him to rush his throw a little bit. We make the big stop and were able to run the clock out from there. I’m really proud of how our guys battled throughout this game.”

On making the big plays to answer Kentucky’s plays…
“They made the big stops. I don’t have the stats, I think we gave up a little too many third downs on defense, but give them credit they executed and made some plays to stay on the field. In the second half, especially in the fourth quarter, I can’t imagine our time of possession was much at all if anything in that fourth quarter. We probably ran three plays before that final drive in the fourth quarter. We score and they score and we come and go three-and-out and you can’t do that, we needed to put a drive together offensively there but like I said, at the key moments we always made a play.”

On the switching at quarterback throughout the game…
“I thought both of them played well. I know you guys like to ask and write all about it. They both had a great week of practice last week. I honestly looked at the grades, and on the plane yesterday I said, ‘Tyler (Russell), you’re going to go the first series, Chris (Relf), you’re going to go the second series. And we’ll keep going back and forth.’ I think both of them played pretty well tonight. We made some silly throws – Chris made that one poor throw down in the red zone right before halftime. I think he made the right decision I think he just made a poor throw and kind of floated the ball out there for that one interception. Overall, I thought they both played well.”

On what he said to UK head coach Joker Phillips after the game…
“I said good luck the rest of the way. I told him I thought his kids really battled hard and played right to the very end. Just knowing Morgan Newton and recruiting him – I didn’t get to see him (after the game) – I said, ‘Hey, give him my best, I hope he’s OK.’ I have a lot of respect for Joker. I think he’s a great football coach. I’ve known him a long time. I just wanted to make sure he knew that I thought their kids (played hard.) You watch how they played in the fourth quarter, really, I thought they probably outplayed us in that fourth quarter right there. Just a lot of credit to how their kids and how he and that program kept battling.”

Mississippi State Players

Tyler Russell- QB

On what he thinks of the two quarterback system…
“I think it really opens it up. The defense doesn’t know what to do. There would be times the defense would think Chris would be in the game, which opened up the pass for me.”

On who he thinks is the No. 1 quarterback…
“A lot of people try to make a big deal out of it, but whoever the coach calls will be ready.”

On his touchdown pass…
“They were in the same defense as we practiced. We had been practicing that play all week.”

Vick Ballard- RB

On Chris Relf’s touchdown drive in first quarter…
“It really doesn’t matter who plays quarterback. They both got the job done tonight. I was happy to see Chris get back in the endzone.”

On what it means to team to get the fourth win…
“This win means a lot. If we want to make a bowl game, this was a must-win game.”

Josh Boyd- DT

On the defensive scheme after Morgan Newton came out…
“Smith isn’t much of a runner, so we could do more with the pass rush. With Newton, you had to keep someone in front of his face.”

On what coach Mullen told him before the game…
“He basically put it on our shoulders to control the line-of-scrimmage”

On Kentucky running 77 offensive plays….
“We got a little tired at the end, but we were just trying to stay consistent and keep doing the things we were doing all week to stop these guys.”