Offensive Line Makes Good Progress

April 22, 2010

LEXINGTON, Ky. - A point of emphasis in the Kentucky spring football practice has been the offensive line and Coach Joker Phillips has been pleased with the progress of the unit, in which four starters must be replaced from last season.

"They have gotten better, there is no question about that," Phillips said.  "They play hard and fast and as a group, which is the important thing.  I know that they are more athletic then what we have had here in a long time. They are tough guys, smart guys and willing (to do what it takes). The offensive linemen are like fullbacks, that is why everyone is so high on John Conner, because he knows that he is a fullback. Some fullbacks think that they are a running back (laughing). Our offensive linemen know what they are -- running the offensive line.  They don't think they are wide receivers. They know who they are."

Perhaps the most intense competition in the O-Line has been at center, with senior Marcus Davis, sophomore Matt Smith and redshirt freshman Sam Simpson.

"There is competition between Marcus Davis and Matt Smith but the big competition will begin when Jake Lanefski comes back (from injury in August)," Phillips said. "We are trying to get out best five on the field and throwing Jake in the mix at center gives us a chance to do that because we feel really good about the two guards.

"(Sam Simpson) is battling at the center position with three centers. The thing that we are doing with Sam is that he is getting a chance to play center and guard because of our numbers. We have been down at right guard and Sam is having to play a few positions and not getting as many reps as he would like at center but he is getting a lot of reps at guard. It is good experience for him."

The Wildcats return to practice Friday for the final workout before the Blue/White Spring Game on Saturday.

Blue/White Game, Presented by Verizon Wireless, Set for Saturday: The Kentucky football team will have its first Blue/White Spring Game under the direction of new head coach Joker Phillips on Saturday, April 24, at 1 p.m. in Commonwealth Stadium.  The event is presented by Verizon Wireless.

Here is some additional information on the Blue/White Game:

  • Admission and parking are free on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Parking lots open at 8 a.m. and fans are welcome to tailgate.
  • Stadium gates open at 11:30 a.m.
  • There will be a radio broadcast on the Big Blue Sports Network, including WLAP in Lexington (630 on the AM dial), WHAS in Louisville (840 AM) and WCKY in Cincinnati (1530 AM).
  • Concession stands and the Nike Team Shops will be available on the stadium concourse.
  • The stadium ticket office outside Gate 4 will be open from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in order for current season-ticket holders to renew their tickets.  Current season-ticket holders should receive their renewal forms in the mail this week.

Revised Format For Blue/White Game: Because of some injuries at key positions, the coaching staff has decided to make the Blue/White Game offense vs. defense instead of a standard game format.

"We have changed the format now because of some injuries at some positions that won't allow us to break the teams up," Coach Joker Phillips said.  "We will go offense vs. defense and (use a) scoring system. It will be similar to the first scrimmage that you guys saw but we will keep a scoring system for the defense so they will be able to score points. We feel that the way our numbers are and having to switch people back-and-forth that it will be better to do offense vs. defense."

The scoring system for the offense features:

  • First down = 1 point
  • Field goal = 3 points
  • Touchdown = 6 points
  • PAT = 1 point

The defensive scoring system features:

  • Three and out (force punt on first series) = 3 points
  • Stop on downs (force punt during the series) = 1 point
  • Stop on fourth down = 2 points
  • Turnover = 6 points
  • Touchdown = 10 points

Wildcats Await NFL Draft: The 2009 Kentucky seniors await the National Football League Draft, which will be held Thursday at 7:30 p.m. (first round), Friday at 6 p.m. (second and third rounds) and Saturday at 10 a.m. (rounds 4-7) in New York City.  The NFL Network will televise the entire draft.

If Kentucky has as many as five players drafted it would be the first time in 31 years for that number of Wildcats to be selected.  Eight Cats were chosen in the 1979 draft, which covered 12 rounds that year.

Kentucky has become much more involved in the NFL the last two years as Rich Brooks, Joker Phillips and the Wildcat coaching staff rebuilt a program which has now gone to a school-record four-consecutive bowl games.  A total of 17 Wildcats have signed NFL contracts during the last two years.

For more on Kentucky's draft history, see pages 32-33 of the UK Football Media Guide.

For live Internet coverage of the draft, go to

Here are some notes on the Southeastern Conference success in recent drafts:

  • The SEC has now led or tied for the lead for most selections in an NFL Draft in 10 of the last 12 years, including the last three drafts.
  • The SEC had the most draft picks of any BCS conference, with 37, in the 2009 NFL Draft.
  • Since 1990, the SEC has had 739 players selected in NFL Drafts, tops in the nation.
  • The first-overall pick and three of the first six picks in the 2009 NFL Draft came from the SEC.
  • Since conference expansion in 1992, the SEC has had 107 first-round selections in 17 drafts, an average of 6.29 selections per draft.
  • The SEC has had the No. 1 pick in the draft five times in the past 12 years.