Joker Phillips News Conference Quotes and Video

Aug. 30, 2010

Cat Scratches Coverage: Press Conference Video | First thing first: Cats must take care of U of L before dreaming big | Walk-on McDermott 'earned the right' to start by eating, lifting, productivity

Joker Phillips News Conference Quotes

Opening Statement:
COACH PHILLIPS:  A little disappointed this morning.  We had walk on tryouts.  I was expecting to see Chip Cosby today (laughter from audience).  I didn't think he was training to look good, I thought he was training to try out for us.  He failed to make it the first time (laughter).

We selected captains yesterday.  I think it was announced to you yesterday.  Randall Cobb will be the offensive captain and DeQuin Evans will be the defensive captain.  We will have two game captains selected for this game.  Mark Hartline will be on offense and Ricky Lumpkin will be on the defensive side of the ball.

I know Rich (Brooks) always started off with the injuries.  I'll do that.  The injury report, (Nick) Melillo everybody knows will be out.  He was our starting tight end, worked himself up to being our starting tight end.  Dakotah Tyler has a high ankle sprain and he will be out.  Then obviously Gene McCaskill will have surgery tomorrow and be out for this game also.

We'll get back some important people tomorrow for practice.  Jonathan George, Donte Rumph, Danny Trevathan, Chandler Burden and Collins Ukwu will be back.  We really lucked out yesterday with Coshik Williams.  He will be back on Wednesday.  His injury is not as severe as we thought it is just an ankle sprain, not a high ankle sprain.  He should be back on Wednesday.  He's a guy we're counting on a lot in our special teams and also as a backup running back.

Saturday when we last talked, was very disappointing in how we weren't into the practice mentally.  It's not as bad as it looks when you are actually out there.  So the film was not as bad as it looked on Saturday.  But also it wasn't good as far as being into the practice mentally.

I thought yesterday was as good a mental practice as we have had since we've been around here.  Everybody was into it.  One thing we did yesterday, all we did was try to create different situations, getting different personnel on the field.  As you guys know, having 10, 11, 12 guys on the field is a coaching error, in my opinion.  One of the things we don't want to do is make that error on Saturday.

So we went over and over different personnel groupings getting on and off the field.  I thought our team was into it as good as I've ever seen a team.

A couple things we think we got to get done this week is we got to be mentally prepared for a lot of different things.  It's just been a pretty difficult team (Louisville) to prepare for, especially the defensive side of the ball.  Actually defense has been a little bit easier than offense.  Offensively (it is has been tough to prepare for Louisville), because they have so many (coaches from different schools and run different schemes.) There's not just one person that comes from Florida, there's a couple that came from Florida that's not in charge, so it's hard to get a read on what (Louisville) would do offensively.  We have to prepare for Utah, which is where the coordinator was, and he went to UNLV.  We have to prepare for Virginia, which is where the offensive line coach was at.  A guy I worked for, worked with, Dave Borbely.
Defensively it's a little bit easier to try to round up film on them.  We just looked at Florida, where Charlie (Strong) was coming from, and also their defensive coordinator Vance Bedford.  We have to prepare mentally.
We've played this game a lot of times when we've had to do that.  Seems like it's every year we've had to prepare for when (Ron) English was there, had to prepare for Michigan, had to watch Michigan.  When Mike (Cassity) came in, we had to watch Illinois.  I mean, it becomes difficult to get your troops to understand that you're not playing Florida, you're playing Florida schemes; you're not playing Michigan, you're playing Michigan schemes.  Sometimes it becomes hard to get them to focus on that film because of that. We also got to be fresh physically.  We got to get the troops back fresh, playing fast.
The third thing that we have to be able to do, and it can happen in the first quarter, second quarter, third quarter, could be after the first play, we've got to be able to adjust because if they're not running the offense, the things that the coordinator has ran at UNLV, our defense has to adjust.  Same thing offensively, if we are getting different stuff than we had been preparing for, we got to be able to adjust.  That will be the most important thing that we'll have to do.
Same thing in special teams area.  We've watched mostly Florida special teams, which is very aggressive, attacking, organized chaos.  Got guys running all over the place, getting after people.  So we'll be prepared for that.  In the middle of the game, we'll have to adjust to that if they're not giving us the same thing we've been watching on film.
With that we'll open it up for questions.

Q.  On Saturday for all the fans, a new era for Kentucky football begins.  Can you share your thoughts and feelings about taking over here.
COACH PHILLIPS:  It is early.  My thoughts are similar to the other seasons that I've started.  But I'm sure maybe Saturday morning I'll be hugging the toilet somewhere, I don't know (laughter).  Haven't done that in a long time, since I was a player at one time. But I don't know.  It's just one of those deals that I've been as relaxed as I've ever been.  But Saturday, who knows. The thing that I know that I have to be is have the emotions under control because there's a lot of decisions throughout the game you have to make, so you have to have your emotions under control.

Q.  On Luke McDermott's progression to starter at defensive tackle?
COACH PHILLIPS:  He came here as a walk on.  I think it's his third year, fourth year maybe.  He's a guy that always gives you 110%.  We told him to eat.  He needed to get bigger and stronger.  We said, `Go to the dining hall, eat.  As soon as you get full, eat some more.'  He's over at the dining hall for an hour and a half, two hours sometimes.  We'll leave breakfast and go back at lunch, he's still there. Same thing in the weight room. When you go in the weight room, he's in the weight room two and three hours.  He's in there an hour after he's supposed to work out. The guy just continues to do everything he needs to do to get himself ready to play at this level.  We've had some injuries.  Luke has a lot of reps and he is taking advantage of them.  Just one of those guys that has a high motor, real aggressive, will never back down from anyone or anything.  He's a big part of this defense.

Q.  When you were living down in Columbia with Charlie, could you have envisioned this scenario, where you would be involved in this kind of rivalry thing together?
COACH PHILLIPS:  No, I didn't.  A house was in between him and me.  We used to work out every day together.  We used to talk about if he got a job, that I would go would with him.  We never envisioned this, that we both would be head coaches and head coaches 80 miles apart, and in state rivals.  We never envisioned this.

Q.  How much have you kept in touch with him?

COACH PHILLIPS:  We've kept in touch, but not like we were when we were together obviously because we would call periodically just to say hello.  But we also worked against each other too.  He was at Florida, I was here and the same since he's been at Louisville.  We have talked.  We do talk on the phone.  But when we do see each other, we have conversations also. But, again, you know, we are fighting for the same thing, so we don't talk as much as we did when we was on the same staff.

Q.  How true do coaches usually stay to what they've done in the past?
COACH PHILLIPS:  It's true they don't have the same personnel and all, but they still have the same philosophies.  It's hard to change a coach's philosophy. Charlie is going to be aggressive.  I mentioned it's going to be a blitz orama.  He's going to attack.  He'll blitz on first down, second down, third down.  He'll be blitzing as soon as he comes out of the locker room.  That's just what they do. We don't think his philosophy will change in that area.

Q.  On Mike Hartline's development and his ability to control the offense.  
COACH PHILLIPS:  I feel good about Mike's ability to identify and get us in the best protection possible.  Know where his problems are.  That's the thing a quarterback needs to know, to know where his problems are, fix things.  If he doesn't have time to fix it, he understands how to sight adjust, which we call, such as quick passes.  He understands it.  I think he'll be fine.

Q.  On  Jordan Aumiller's development and when he expects to get Nick Mellilo back.
COACH PHILLIPS:  Jordan (Aumiller) went from linebacker to tight end in the spring.  He got 15 days in the spring and he and Melillo were battling for the job.  Melillo actually won the job.  He was one tight end that had played.  After him there are five freshmen, three true freshmen and two redshirt freshmen, in Aumiller and Kendrick. The thing that Aumiller has done, we think he might have the chance to be the most complete tight end.  Huge physical presence, blocking on the perimeter, not yet, blocking on the edge, but we think he will eventually be that type of guy that will be able to handle one of the edges. Tight ends are used when you're having a lot of pressure, getting a lot of pressure to protect at least one of your edges.  A lot of teams play with two tight ends, try to protect your edges and blitz.  When teams are a heavy blitz team, I think Aumiller will give us that.  He's really good as far as catching the football, stretching the ball down the field.  We think he has a chance to be the most complete tight end in the group at this point.

Q.  Do you think the emergence of Aumiller is a surprise to you?
COACH PHILLIPS:  No.  You told us we needed to recruit him (laughter).  We believe everything you tell us, you know.  I heard you didn't believe Randall, though, about the other one, the backup guy. I mean, I really think this backup guy (Tyler Robinson), he's probably the most physical guy that we've had as a true freshman walk in these doors, Tyler Robinson.  He'll be our second tight end.  He'll be the stationary tight end when we go in a two tight end set.  Aumiller will be the move guy.  The move guy, you can classify him as a fullback if we get into that type of set.  We really feel good about Tyler Robinson's progress.

Q.  You talked about Charlie's style of play, but what is your style of play?
COACH PHILLIPS:  I like the attack.  I did it in 2007.  I don't know if people would classify me in 2008 and '09.  But I want to be aggressive, get the ball down the field.  Tony gave me a stat that in 2007 our average scoring drive was two minutes.  That's attacking to me.  But in the last two years we haven't been able to do that. But we want to be able to get the ball down the field and score points as quickly as possible.  That would mean that I like to attack people and get the ball in the end zone.

Q.  Do you feel like you have the personnel right now to do that?
COACH PHILLIPS:  I think we're closer, I really do.  I think we're closer than we were in '08 and '09.  I think the reason why is we're more experienced at the positions outside, more experienced at the quarterback position also.  Everybody knows how I feel about this offensive line's ability to protect and run the ball.  I think those guys have done an amazing job in knowing where they're supposed to be, being physical and nasty, that we have been trying to get up front for a long time.

Q.  They'll (Louisville) be fired up.  How important is it for you guys to get off to a good start?
COACH PHILLIPS:  It's very important.  We want to play fast.  That's been one of the things we haven't done around here in the last couple years, is get out to a fast start.  We've come out at halftime and played like we want to play, but we haven't gotten off to a fast start in the first quarter.  That's one thing we have to do.  It's very important for us to do that. Confidence, it will help our confidence.  It will help ourselves winning on the field.  I think it will help us.

Q.  What does a coach worry about going into an opener?

COACH PHILLIPS:  The thing that you worry about is how the young guys are going to react.  It's a big stadium that we're about to go into.  We'll play I think it's eight first year guys, guys that just came in with this class, whether it be junior college players or true freshmen.  We'll play eight new guys.  The biggest thing is how those guys will react.  Mychal Bailey will be starting for us.  Last year he was starting at Southwest Community College in Mississippi in front of about 400 people, friends and family only.  Saturday he'll be starting in front of 55,000 people and playing on regional TV.

Q.  On the importance of winning this game to have momentum the rest of the season.
COACH PHILLIPS:  You're going to have a great year, either team (if you win this game).  If either team is going to have a great year, it's important to get this one.  I would say momentum is the biggest thing that's come out of this game here.  It's important for both teams involved that you leave this game with momentum to carry you through the rest of the season.  I don't think either team can have a great year without this because I think we both need the momentum.

Q.  Talk about the other defensive tackle.
COACH PHILLIPS:  The guys that are behind him.  Shane McCord is a guy that's been around here a long time.  He's played in some big games.  One of the things, we try to get his attention.  There's no question about that.  We want him to play with the passion that Luke (McDermott) is playing with.  We have a couple other guys that were injured.  (Donte) Rumph we think will have a chance to battle for that position also.  He'll be back (at practice), starting tomorrow.  He sprained his knee, but he's fine.  He sat out about three practices.  He'll be back tomorrow.  He actually ran yesterday. His weight is coming down since he's been out, which is a huge positive.  He tells me every day how much he's lost.  He's down to 306, I think something like that.  So he's lost 12, 13 pounds since he's been here.  He's continued to lose it since he's been out, which is huge for us. Those two guys are guys that we think can help us at that position also.  But McDermott is the guy that we think deserves to start at this point.

Q.  Can you talk about special teams, especially the kicking game.
COACH PHILLIPS:  The kicking game, we think we have two of the most dynamic returners in this league in (Derrick) Locke and (Randall) Cobb.  Ryan Tydlacka will handle the punting duties and he'll actually handle the PAT (and) field goals also.  He has won that job and has been the most consistent. We think that someday (Joe) Mansour will be a guy that will line up and kick 60 plus yard field goals.  Today he's not ready to do that.  He hasn't been as consistent as we would like.  There's still a battle between he (Mansour) and (Craig) McIntosh to do the kickoff duties.  We'll continue that battle this week and try to figure it out before Saturday.  We might use them both. But Joe has to be a little more consistent if he has a chance someday to be a guy that kicks 50, 60 yarders at will.  He kicked one there the other day when you guys (media members) were there.  We need to bring you there every day.  He had plenty to spare.  It was at the 50, and it was into the wind.  We think he's got a chance to be a big time kicker for us.  But we also got to bring him up slowly, too. But sometime he'll be a big time one for us. 

Q.  Is there some sense that the game has some importance in recruiting in the state?
COACH PHILLIPS:  It's not just because of that (two new head coaches), that's every year.  This game is important for recruiting.  It's important for momentum.  It's important now that we both are first year head coaches.  I don't want to start off with a loss and I know he doesn't want to start off with a loss.  It makes it important.  It's also important and big for recruiting.  We both understand that's a huge part of having success in this game.

Q.  Can you talk about the development of freshmen Jerrell Priester and Raymond Sanders?

COACH PHILLIPS:  Both of them have got really natural ability.  I can't wait to see those guys run 40s because I think they will be guys that will challenge to be one of our faster kids on this football team.  Sanders, he reminds me a lot of Derrick Locke when he walked on campus, his leadership ability.  He's a guy (that came from a high school that) they had 28 signees last year.  If you asked any of them who was the leader of that bunch, he was the leader of Stephenson High School's football team.  He's continued that here. The first week he was there, Derrick Locke came up and said, `I've never been around a smarter guy than this guy.  He understands our checks, he understands our signals, he understands the tracks that the running backs have to make on each run, he understands the pass protection.'  I guess Locke was bragging on himself like he always does, because he was teaching (Sanders)(laughter).  Then Priester, we think he has the same type of ability.  The thing about him is he's one of those guys that is not very big, but he's very aggressive and he runs well.  He has great vertical, which you have to have if you're a small guy at the corner position.  He got a lot of reps when some of our older corners were down.  He got a lot of reps.  He'll definitely play on Saturday.  He'll be an impact before this year is over also.

Q.  Will Priester see time on the offensive side of the ball?

COACH PHILLIPS:  Not yet.  We want him to learn as much as he possibly can about the defensive side of the ball before we decide to give him some offensive side.  He will be a backup returner in the kick return area.  Then he or Mychal Bailey will be the backup punt returner.

Q.  On quarterbacks managing the game and if that term has become "dirty" to him ...
COACH PHILLIPS:  It's not dirty to me (laughter).  We manage to win this game, it will be the cleanest thing I've ever seen (laughter). Definitely.  You know, Mike has won a lot of games, okay?  We've won with the quarterback position, too.  I mean, the game he got hurt, he was the guy that was giving us a chance to win the game, which is the reason he's our starter now.  We say he gives us the best chance to win. The quarterback position, is similar to a pitcher.  You don't manage the game at that position.  You got to go out and win games, make people hit the ball on the ground or in the air, also strike people out.  Mike does those things you need to do at that position.

Q.  On Matt Smith and Billy Joe Murphy making it into the starting lineup.  
COACH PHILLIPS:  Those guys just beat them out.  We think those guys played really well, well enough to be at the starting position.  Billy Joe (Murphy) came on late the last couple weeks.  He's been starting at the left tackle because Chandler has been out.  But we thought he was playing better than Brad (Durham), so we moved him over. That's the thing about all of our positions.  We don't play the person who is behind the right tackle, we play the next best tackle.  We have to get our best five on the field.  Billy Joe is a swing guy, plays the left, plays the right.  Chandler we can keep stationary.  He's on the left side.  We feel like Brad can be a left or a right also. But those two guys we feel like in the last couple weeks outplayed (the others).  It was a continuous battle on both positions.  We talked about that throughout the training camp, but those are the two guys that we think deserve a chance to start.

Q.  You lost several guys on the offensive line.  Over the last couple years you were able to get other guys reps.
COACH PHILLIPS:  Definitely, definitely.  That's what we wanted to do.  This program has to be in the position where being able to redshirt a lot of those guys.  All of those guys have redshirted except Brad Durham and Larry Warford.  Those are the two guys that did not redshirt. When you're able to redshirt as many guys as we've redshirted up front, you have some guys, (Kevin) Mitchell is one of those guys, we've got to try to get him some experience.  Once you redshirt them, the next year you try to get them as much experience as you possible can.  That's where the depth comes in. When you lose four seniors like we just lost, okay, we don't miss much up front because we got a lot of guys that have played a lot of reps.  And those guys are young, too.  We have every one of those guys, except for Brad, back.  We only signed one offensive lineman this year.  But Mitchell is a redshirt freshman.  We'll try to redshirt Teven-Eatmon, get him some reps.  We'll give Mitchell some reps.  Four of the five will be going out the door in two years.  So we got to be ready to insert some guys and be ready to play right away.

Q. Normally when you have a coaching change it is because a coach has been losing, but that is not the case here. Is that a plus for you?
COACH PHILLIPS:  I think it's a plus.  It's a huge plus to have been around here, too.  I think that makes it a big plus because you know the strengths.  We had talked about this.  It's nothing that I'm saying against Rich (Brooks).  Rich and I talked about some of the things we felt like we needed to get better at also. The thing is, you know where your strong suits are and you also know where you need to get strong at, too.  So I think that's been a huge plus.

Q.  How will play calling work?
COACH PHILLIPS:  Randy will call the plays from the box.  I'll listen.  We all will have input, okay?  We'll all have input.  I expect Steve Brown to have input on offense.  He's got to tell us what's going on if he sees something.  We can't waste any eyes.  We can't have Steve Brown up in the box and not looking at the game, looking at something that he sees that can help us.  Same thing with Randy Sanders on defense.  If he sees something that the offense is doing that he thinks we can take advantage of, (for example) expect him to tell us that we need to blitz from the weak side.

UK Player Quotes

DeQuin Evans, Sr., DE, #55

On Luke McDermott's play ...
"There is only one word for Luke McDermott and it's workaholic. He works on his craft and technique like no one I have ever seen before. He works 30 minutes before we get out there and stays after a little while and talks to coaches and goes to the film room. He is a great guy for our team this year. He is a walk-on and if you were to come out on the field and not have known he was a walk-on, you would have thought he was a scholarship player."

On winning this game setting tone for the rest of the season...

"I think this game is the most important game of the season. How you start you season is usually how you end your season. You always want to start off on a good note, on the right foot. What's better than starting off against your rival team? They have a brand new head coach who is well known, who has been in the SEC for numerous years, and who is coaching a Big East team. The main thing they want to do is knock an SEC team down, especially their rival. We want to come out here have a good game and come out with a win and that obviously sets the bar a lot higher for the next game."

Ricky Lumpkin, Sr., DT, #53

On if the team will see the benefits of hard work in fall camp ...
"Oh, yes we will, this team is ready to come out fast, ready to get after it.  We know this is big game for both teams, this is our biggest rival and we are their biggest rivals. We are going into a real hostel environment and they just added 15,000 new seats so it should make it even more exciting.  They are going to be real amped up because we won the past three games (against them) but that goes out the window.  This is a new season a new start. We have two new head coaches that want to win their first rivalry game."

On if it is hard to prepare for them because of the coaching change ...

"It's going be tough, but this team has done this the past three years with Miami (Ohio) having a new coach, and we did it against Louisville in 2007.  So, it's nothing really new, we are going to watch the film we have. We are going to look at Florida, Mississippi State, and Louisville and everyone else that runs that type of offense and see if we can get the feel, but in the end they might come out and run something completely different. We are just going to adjust on the fly. Right now we are just going off what we know and what we expect them to do in the game."

On what it would mean to him to win four in a row against Louisville ...

"It would mean a lot. I would really like to get this win for the seniors. This is my fifth time (vs. Louisville).  We lost my freshman year and if they can just go out with four in a row that would be awesome. To keep the Governors' Cup here one more year and you can say I went all four years without losing to Louisville would be a great accomplishment."

Randall Cobb, Jr., WR/QB, #18

On how important it is for UK to keep the Governor's Cup ...
"I think it is very important. That is something we have been able to do for the past couple of seasons and we want to make sure we are doing our job to keep it (Governor's Cup) in Lexington."

On if he and Derrick Locke fight over who get the ball on kickoff returns ...

"Yeah we do have our little friendly battles within the team and we always play around and joke to see who will have the most yards during the game. But we are not going to fight for it, I know if he gets the ball I'm going to block and do whatever I can to help him to get to the end zone and I know he will do the same for me."

On if Louisville is hard to prepare for ...

"It is very hard to prepare for a team with those kinds of changes, because you don't know what they are going to do. They could do the same thing they did last year or something totally opposite. So you just have to prepared and pay attention to all the details as far as all the possibilities that could happen."

On if there is an advantage because they have played Charlie Strong's defense at Florida for years ...

"Yes, I think we understand what kind of things he likes to run and the pressures he likes to bring and I think it is very important we stay on top of that and make sure we are mentally prepared and can execute our offense."

Stuart Hines, Jr., OL, #70

On the offensive line being a "team within a team"...
"We try to be like that (a team within a team). We try to really come together because playing offensive line is a little bit different than playing quarterback or receiver. You really are dependent upon each other and know what is going on with the entire offensive line."

On why is it that the offensive line is like that, being more dependent on each other?

"Because we are able to trust and rely on each other no matter what. Playing together and being together as a unit really helps you out in a game situation because you know what your teammate is going to do because you've played with them and you develop a feel for how they play."

On his feelings on trying to win the opener against rival Louisville ...

"Getting a win against a rival is very important to us. This year it's even more important with it being the first game of the year, first game for both new coaches on top of being a rivalry game. So the importance of this game is very high. Everybody wants to get started off on the right foot and get a good start to the year."

On the comparisons from last year's offensive line and this year's ...
"I feel like we can be a strength again this year. Although we lost 4 seniors last year, we have quality guys that are coming up behind them. We have worked really hard this offseason with workouts and fall practices. We have come a long way from where we were and we still have a lot of work to do and a lot of work to get done this week to prepare for Saturday's game."