Phillips Says Wildcats 'Sharp' In Practice

Aug. 23, 2012

LEXINGTON, Ky. - The University of Kentucky football team had Wednesday off from football activities due to the start of fall semester classes. However, the entire team and coaching staff was back at it Thursday morning as the Wildcats began their preparation for the season opener with Louisville on Sept. 2.

Head coach Joker Phillips said the Wildcats were sharp and practiced fast Thursday. Overall, it was a successful day of preparation.

"I think we were really sharp today," Phillips said. "We flew around and this was really the first day we had swapped scouts, meaning the down-the-line defensive guys gave the offense a look and the down-the-line offense guys gave the defense a look. I thought we were better organized than we have ever been around here in getting those switches. A lot of that has to do with our guys understanding how we practice. A lot of crisp routes, crisp passes that were caught and our guys competed. I'm pleased with today, on our first day of preparation for Louisville."

Phillips said the Wildcats just scratched the surface of its game-planning against the Cardinals, doing basic offensive and defensive prep, while also touching on some special teams.

"You start with our base runs and base passes," Phillips said. "Same thing on defense you start with Louisville's base runs and base passes and start expanding from there in the special teams areas. We started with our punt team and kickoff return. We got a good start and we have a lot more preparation to go obviously, but we have time. That time is becoming shorter everyday but we do have time to keep expanding on the packages."

The big news from practice this week has been the announcement that sophomore Maxwell Smith will start at quarterback in UK's season opener. Phillips said since the announcement, Smith has been, as expected, more comfortable and confident.

"He looks comfortable and you know how that goes," Phillips said. "Once it's announced the starting guy gets a little more comfortable, the guys feel a little more comfortable with him and you are able to lead a little bit better. He is a little bit more vocal because now he knows that it is his. The guys around him have responded the same way he has."

Phillips said senior quarterback Morgan Newton got most of the second-team reps on Thursday with freshmen quarterbacks Patrick Towles and Jalen Whitlow getting most their reps on scout team. Phillips said the two freshman will get more reps with the second-team offense later this week.

Staying with the skilled positions, Phillips said after practice that senior tailback Coshik Williams practiced and is ready to go after sustaining a minor injury in Saturday's scrimmage. Phillips said the competition at tailback may have led to Williams "healing quicker." However, Phillips said based on Williams' performance at the end of last season and his knowledge of the UK offense, he will be the starting tailback.

"He deserves to be the starter the way he finished last spring," Phillips said about Williams. "Pound for pound he is probably the strongest guy on our football team. He works as hard as anybody. He deserves to be the starting running back. Plus his knowledge of our offense is probably better than anybody on our football team."

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Fans Invited to Joker Phillips' First Call-In Show in Louisville: Kentucky football fans are invited to head coach Joker Phillips' first radio call-in show of the season on Monday, Aug. 27 at O'Charley's (4801 Outer Loop) in Louisville. Phillips will be joined by the Voice of the Wildcats Tom Leach, as they take calls from around the Commonwealth.

Fans will get a chance to meet Coach Phillips and Leach up close as well as have a chance to win posters, yearbooks, hats and an autographed football by Phillips.

Kentucky women's volleyball head coach Craig Skinner will join Phillips on the show in anticipation of UK-U of L volleyball match on Wednesday, Aug. 29 at 7 p.m. ET. The UK volleyball team is ranked 13th in the nation this preseason.

Alumni Tailgate for Louisville Game: Join UK alumni and friends for some pregame fun as the Wildcats kickoff the 2012 football season against the University of Louisville Cardinals at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium in Louisville on Sept. 2. The pregame tailgate event begins at 12:30 p.m. at Churchill Downs lots 6 and 7, outside gate 17. Parking is free and the event location is just a short walk to the stadium.

Admission is $5 for students, $10 for UK Alumni Association members and $15 for nonmembers. Cost includes a catered lunch from Mark's Feed Store featuring barbeque, side items, tea and water. The UK band and cheerleaders will also be making a special appearance.

To make reservations for this and other UK Alumni Association tailgate events, visit For questions regarding this event, contact Jill Smith at, 859-257-8906 or 1-800-269-ALUM.