Kentucky-Tennessee Postgame Quotes

Nov. 26, 2011

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Kentucky Head Coach Joker Phillips

Joker Phillips: The injury report? There is none. What an amazing game. How many -- if we lined up the last 26 years, how many quarterbacks have we had, probably 15? Who would pick out Matt Roark as the guy who broke the streak?

You know we had a few goals still left and I know a lot of people didn't consider these goals important but they are important to us. And that was to win our last game, we never talked about the streak but to end the streak, and to send this bunch of seniors who have given so much to this uiniversity, to this program, to send those guys out the right way.

At halftime up 3-0, we talked about how much are you willing to give for a lifetime memory, and many don't understand that unless you've been in a huddle, been on a team, been amongst people that you really care about.

We had started a tradition last year where I give all the seniors a chance to stand up and talk to their piers about what Kentucky football has meant to this them and every one of them, in the minute that they had talked about everybody in that room as being their brothers. So at the end I asked their brothers are they willing to fight, scratch and claw to give their big brothers a memory of a lifetime.

And they were. You saw the results. The guys did a good job of following the plan -- first of all our coaching staff did an unbelievable job of coming up with a plan and offensively we had -- Matt (Roark) did not see the plan until Tuesday; he did not see it until Tuesday. And that was as we were going over the plan on Sunday, late Sunday night and all day Monday, I asked the staff I said, "Don't you think we need to get him over here and talk to him about what we're going to do with him?" (Laughter.)

But he had class, he had other obligations and that's what's important, and we stress that when we go into a kid's home and we're not about to veer off from what we think is important, and one thing we think is important is academics, so he did not see the plan until Tuesday morning.

We practiced the plan Tuesday, we practiced the plan Wednesday, we practiced Thursday. It wasn't a lot of plays, as you can see, wasn't a lot of plays but the plan was to play for fourth down, try to get ourselves in 4th and shorts and possibly go for them, "grind it out" is one of the things that we were saying. And then when we had a chance to make an explosion play we got to make it, can't miss it.

That was our plan offensively. Defensively was to make it as uncomfortable as we possibly could for the quarterback, and I thought our guys did a really good job of that. There was some encouraging things from a lot of young, first-year players that, again, stepped up for their brothers.

We knew that the seniors would come out and play emotional, because many of them it's their last game, but how much and how hard was their brothers willing to give up, how much were they willing to give up and they did an unbelievable job of having each other's backs.

I was asked earlier about how much it meant to me to break the streak as the head coach. It doesn't mean much to me, it doesn't, to break the streak. What means more to me is the joy that those seniors, the memories that those guys will have, so that's what means more to me than anything.


Q. On the seniors going out on a win ...

Joker Phillips: It's an emotional game; we talked about that. You know, it's an emotional game, many of them won play again -- this is it. This is the last time many of those -- I don't know if they have a flag football league anymore, okay? Many of them will revert to playing softball, baseball. They're all competitors, whether the people on the outside want to believe that or not, we're all competitors. That's what drives us.

Many of them will play pick-up basketball, many of them will not pick up a football again, many of them will not. That's why it's an emotional game. If you've ever played, if you've ever played, you get emotional when you know it's somebody's last game. You get emotional when you know it's somebody's last time they will ever play. You get emotional when you know how much these guys have put into this thing, last night many of them said 365 days a year. It is, it's 365 days a year that you have to be training, be into it mentally, so therefore, if you've ever played, you get emotional when you talk about somebody playing their last game.

Q. When you told Matt (Roark) he was going to start what was his reaction?

Joker Phillips: Matt (Roark) -- he was excited, you know, why not be? If you were a wide receiver and now you get a chance to touch the ball every snap, you know? Matt was excited about it.

We looked like he did in high school, that's exactly what he looked like -- somebody said coming out we are either the smartest or the dumbest coaching staff for putting him back there. He did an amazing job. We said to take care of the football, don't turn it over. We had way too many penalties. That was one of our goals. I know we had five at half, I think we had five or six after the half. Can't have penalties, can't have the five-yard penalties, which is what we were trying to stay away from.

We couldn't push the ball down the field, we couldn't. We wanted to grind it out three here, four three, get ourselves into shorts to make a decision on whether we want to go for it or not. But he was excited about starting at quarterback. Somebody asked me what made me go with the decision. He was all we had. He was all we had. The rest of the guys could not protect themselves today.

Q. What was that moment like -- you talked about what it means to you, but right there at midfield I saw you wide eyed, the look on your face like -- what was that moment like for you right then?

Joker Phillips: It's a special -- these are the Wildcat faithful, the wildest -- it was one of the loudest I've ever seen it, even though we weren't at capacity. Those guys (fans) did a good job, had a lot to do with us winning today, with how loud and crazy you guys were. It was exciting to send the seniors out (the right way), but it was exciting to see the Wildcat faithful here and I appreciate them.

Q. You have seen more talented players before this. Why was this group able to do what no team in 26 years had been able to do?

Joker Phillips: I don't know. We took care of the football. In the past we have turned the football over. We've made some bone-head plays, and we made some bone-head plays today but we were able to turn it, and I don't know why. I think this group is close knit and every guy that stood up said "You are my brothers" and I think that's part of it.

Q. On players having to step up because the team is banged up on offense and defense ...

Joker Phillips: They have, you know, and banged up on defense, also. There were some guys that went in the game similar to what Matt did, with different roles. Like (Alvin) Dupree, all over the place. I looked out there one time and there was five freshmen, and it was like "Oh my goodness, five babies." Didn't phase them that we've lost 26 years in a row; they didn't know. Only thing they know is what they hear from you, you know, so they didn't know.

Dupree is out there playing ball, bunch of young guys out there and you have enough older guys on defense that do understand this Tennessee/Kentucky series.

So they was out there playing. The defense did a great job of stopping the run. You can't stop the run -- again, I always talk about how demoralizing that is, and once you get them into the long-down distance, you make it uncomfortable, and that's what they did. They made it uncomfortable for the quarterbacks.

Q. When did you find out that the quarterbacks weren't going to go, and what did you think about that?

Joker Phillips: Max (Smith) got better every day and we kept thinking he would be able to go, but by the time we came to the realization, we had done practiced this situation too long, so we had to go with it. We hadn't practiced any of the plays that Max could go in and execute. This is not his style, what we done today.

So on Thursday we said, we think we need to go with Matt because this is all our team has practiced, and there was one time we were saying, "All right, Randy, let's run a post route and get the safety down," and he says "This is all he knows" and it was about 20 plays on it. "This is all he knows; if it's not on here, we can't run it." We had a couple of things that we could have taken advantage of, but we couldn't.

Q. Did you have an "Oh crap" moment?

Joker Phillips: No, I didn't, I had the "Oh crap" moment on Monday and Tuesday. We executed, we didn't give him a lot of things to think about, we just went up and played ball and that's what Matt (Roark) was doing.

Q. Was what we saw in the past two weeks and particularly for today for folks that had begun to doubt the program, doubt you, is this what you want them to see and say this is why you should be patient?

Joker Phillips: I just think that this program is -- again, we have a lot of good, young players in here that made plays today. Nobody is happy with the way the season (went) -- especially us, okay, especially us, because of all the hard work and long hours that we've put in it.

We're not happy with the way it went, but we are willing to do whatever we have to do to get it corrected. Thank you guys.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports

Wide Receivers Coach Tee Martin

Offensive Coordinator Randy Sanders

Kentucky Players

#3 Matt Roark, WR/QB

On his overall thoughts on the win ...
"I never expected to do anything like that. Not the part of beating Tennessee, but the me quarterbacking part. It was good. I felt really comfortable out there."

On when he learned he was going to be the starter ...
"They told me last Sunday after the game. I figured it was going to be maybe one or two series, and maybe some key plays during the game. On Monday I was like 'this is for real'. On Tuesday, we were at the meetings, and I was still thinking I was just going to do 'Wildcat' plays. Then coach told me I was going to be the quarterback and I was excited."

On how hard it was to play this game ...
"It wasn't that hard. My teammates knew, and that's who I'm with all the time. We were really excited. I really wanted to tell me family. I know they have a big mouth, and my friends tweet all the time so I didn't want to tell all of them."

#9 Ryan Tydlacka, P

On his thoughts with Matt Roark at quarterback ...
"We didn't have anyone else. What else could we really do? We were all happy that he pulled it out."

On Joker keeping Roark starting a secret ...
"He never said anything about not telling people, but I think we all decided we didn't want to tell anyone. We knew we wanted to win and keep it as quiet as possible."

On what the win means ...
"It's unbelievable going out there and it was unbelievable going out the way I did today and having the season I did today. It was really windy, and it was tough. I think I did my job today."

#22 Danny Trevathan, LB

On his overall thoughts ...
"I just want to say that this is a blessing. I love this team. I feel like we took care of business today. It's been 26 years. That's too long for anything. I think we played our hearts out today. I feel like we played one of our best games."

On what he expected coming into today ...
"Everybody felt it. I felt it during the game and before the game. It was an emotional game, and my last game. I never thought this day would come. I think there are some young guys that are trying to go get it, and I think they are going to go get it next year."

On if he trusted Matt Roark at quarterback ...
"I knew Matt (Roark) was a baller and he just liked to play football. He loves the game. He played quarterback for the first time since high school. He can run and he is big and athletic. I think he performed well today."

#40 Avery Williamson, LB

On the defense turning around in the final two weeks of the season following the Vanderbilt loss...
"We didn't have anything to lose. We wanted to send the seniors out on a high note. It was a huge game for us. We knew that if we lost this year it would just devastate the whole team. We had to go out (on top)."

On the seniors making huge plays on the final Tennessee offensive drive...
"Just giving their last effort. It's like I told Ronnie (Sneed), it was my series to go in, I said, 'Ronnie, go ahead and take it, man. It's your last time playing for UK.' I wanted him to get that feeling. These seniors, they knew this was their last go around. Some of them might get a shot at the next level, some of them might not. I feel like they just gave it all they had. They gave it 100 percent."

#46 Ronnie Sneed, LB

On knowing that they could beat Tennessee...
"I just had faith in my team. I could see it in everybody's eyes. The seniors wanted to go out with a win and the younger guys wanted to help us leave with a win. It was something everybody wanted to do. We knew we needed to do it. We wanted to stop them from going to a bowl. We stepped up and played a great game."

On what makes this group so special...
"I believe it's the team chemistry. I've never been on a UK team that has had such a tight bond. These guys are like my brothers. Everybody feels the same way about each other. We are always willing to go out and lay it on the line and fight for each other all the way to the end, and that's what we did."

On if their hopes and beliefs waivered knowing a wide receiver would be starting at quarterback...
"No, not at all, not at all. The coaches know what they're doing, the offense was confident in what they were going to run this weekend. I knew it'd be fine. I just thought, maybe the defense will have to step up a little bit more than usual. Hey, that's fine. We went out there and executed the game plan. Everything went great."

On the seniors making so many big plays in this game...
"That's what I felt like should have happened. We want to win, the young guys follow our lead and it was just time to make plays. We knew this was the last time we were going to be together, the last time we were going to play in front of our fans at Commonwealth Stadium, and we wanted to go out with a bang."

#21 Winston Guy, S/LB

Tennessee Head Coach Derek Dooley

Opening statement ...
"Well real bad ending to a real bad season. It's hard to say much more than that, our biggest fears were realized. We were miserable in the first half on offense and had a chance in the second half but just couldn't execute. Give Kentucky a lot of credit. They played a lot more inspired football than we did. Now we have to begin our climb up because I did believe we were going to hit a place that wasn't good. We were headed in this direction all along and just couldn't fight our way out of it. Real disappointing but we're going to have to learn from it and begin our climb in the offseason when we get back."

On not making a bowl game ...
"It's very disappointing; something that shouldn't happen at Tennessee and hopefully it's something that won't happen again soon."

On Kentucky seeming to play more inspired ...
"I think our execution was just so poor. That's probably a better way of saying it. Our quarterback really struggled in the first half especially. Lethargic, he was sick all week. We thought he'd be a little better. He struggled so we were going to give him one more quarter in the third and he made a couple plays so we decided to stick with him but we just couldn't execute it."

On the final drive ...
"I thought we would be able to make enough plays to get it down there and win the game but it wasn't our day."

On the Kentucky quarterback situation ...
"We thought they might come out in a wildcat but didn't know it was going to be the whole game so we had to sit there and basically play wing-T football. We had two drives that we probably shouldn't have given up. They had 217 yards on offense, we were 4-of-15 on third down, and we only had 61 rushing yards. We're just not very good and I've been saying that all year so I don't really know what to say."

On Tennessee's defensive performance ...
"Yeah they did good, but they had a receiver at quarterback and ran it every time. We missed a lot of tackles. We fumbled the ball and they went 80 yards on a drive. On a quarterback boot one time our guy was right there and ran back in coverage, I don't know why. They had a sweep on third and 15 and we had a guy right there miss a tackle. We played like a team that is not very good and we're not. That's what we are."

On the end of the Tennessee win streak against Kentucky...
"Certainly you don't want it on your watch but it happened and there's not much we can do about it now except try to start another one."

Tennessee Players

#37, Brian Randolph, DB

On UK wide receiver Matt Roark playing quarterback ...
"We game planned a little bit for it. We knew he was a high school quarterback. When we saw him warm up, we weren't too surprised."

On the Coach Dooley saying that Kentucky was more inspired than their team ...
"They had nothing to lose. I think we came out and we were inspired also."

On if the team believed they could make a comeback during the fourth quarter ...
"We all had confidence in our offense and we thought they were going to put on some points and then it was pretty surprising at the end."

#23, Prentiss Waggner, DB

On if the defense provided a breakthrough in the game ...
"I wouldn't necessarily call it a breakthrough; I just call it doing our job. We knew once we did our job, we could give our offense as many chances as they could to get the ball in the end zone."

On how it felt to not be able to stop Kentucky even though they only had six passes ...
"It was really frustrating. Throughout the whole game we were just looking to get the ball to the offense as many times as we could."

On having to end the season on a loss to Kentucky...
"It was really down in the locker room as expected after a big loss like that. We couldn't get the seniors out on a good note so that's the main thing we are disappointed about."