Quotes and Video from the Joker Phillips Press Conference

Sept. 20, 2010

Cat Scratches: Getting off to fast start, keeping up with Florida's speed a top priority

Head Coach Joker Phillips

FastScripts by ASAP Sports

COACH PHILLIPS: Injury report: The two guys that are doubtful for this week, Moncell Allen who has a hamstring, and Stuart Hines, who both have played significant roles in the first three games offensively. Taiedo Smith is also questionable. We've got a couple guys that will be day-to-day will be (DeQuin) Evans, (Locke). He might explain to you guys he's ready. And then (Avery) Williamson. Those three guys will be day-to-day, probably won't practice until Wednesday.

I really don't want to talk much about the past game, so we'll get on to Florida. This is a huge challenge for us, playing in our first SEC game. One of the biggest challenges will be matching speed and matching intensity. And the thing we did last week is we kind of sleepwalked for about a quarter. You cannot, cannot come out and be not focused, not be intense, not be able to match their speed for the first quarter. If you do that, you could be down 14 points in a heartbeat or be down 21 points, and we've been there, been down 28 in the first quarter. If you don't match the intensity, don't match the excitement, if you allow the things that The Swamp brings to intimidate you, you could be down 28 points, no question about that.

We've got to really stay focused on what we have to do, how we have to be, how we have to show up in order to be able to match the things that we'll have to match to play well down there in The Swamp.

This is what you come to Kentucky for. You come to play in big games. We sign up because we want to play in SEC games, and we have won on the road in the last three road trips. I don't know who has the longest winning streak on the road in the SEC, but we've been on the road and have been focused and well prepared and did it for 60 minutes. But this is a huge challenge for us, but that's what we signed up for. That's why we signed up to play at Kentucky, to play in these type of games.

Any questions?

Q. On Stuart Hines:

COACH PHILLIPS: He's not a vocal leader but he's a leader through example. He understands our offense as good as anyone, physical guy, but somebody has got to step up. Billy Joe (Murphy) has played a lot of plays here, also. He'll be a guy that we'll move inside (from tackle) because we want to get our best five on the field.

Stuart is the emotional leader up front, there's no question about that. But we've got enough leaders on offense that if one goes down, we feel like we've got enough that we can overcome one not being with us.

Q. No chance he'll play?

COACH PHILLIPS: At this point probably not. Probably not.

Q. What type of opportunity is ahead of the team this week?

COACH PHILLIPS: It's a great opportunity for us to put a huge stamp on this program and on this football team, to show the character, show the maturity of this football team. It's a great opportunity for us.

Q. Will you talk to the team about the 23-year losing streak?

COACH PHILLIPS: No, I won't talk about it, no. I won't talk about it. Somebody was telling me today, Bill Ransdell was the last to beat Tennessee and Florida. Mike Hartline has got a chance. He's still got a chance.

Q. Regarding Florida's offense.

COACH PHILLIPS: A little bit more conventional than they have been. They've been more of a spread, zone read, quarterback run game, and now starting to hand the ball to the running back. They have two really good running backs that are doing a good job for them. They're always going to be explosive because they've got speed. I really like who they have up front, offensive line wise. They haven't given up a sack, rushed for 160-something yards, passed for about 150, getting the ball in the end zone when they need to get the ball in the end zone evidenced by 34 points (per game), and good offense.

Q. Regarding any extra time spent on punt protection this week.

COACH PHILLIPS: We've got the same amount of time allowed, and we usually go about ten minutes on Tuesday, we go five minutes on Wednesday, we do a walk-through on Thursday, another ten in the body of practice. Yeah, that's a huge emphasis always. The teams get punts blocked, the percentage of winning goes way down, so we cannot get a punt blocked.

Q. Derrick Locke said 85 percent of teams that get a punt blocked lose.

COACH PHILLIPS: If Locke says it, it's right (laughter). I don't know why you all asked me.

Q. On Florida and Kentucky being good turnover margin teams so far this season.

COACH PHILLIPS: It's a great match-up, a great match-up. I was looking at the conference stats, and we're second in the league in turnover margin. We haven't turned the ball over. They're first. They turned it over five times, which means they're pretty darned good at taking it away. Taking it away 12 times; that's a +7 turnover margin. You would think a team that hasn't turned it over in three games would be top in the conference, but we're not because they've created a lot of turnovers.

So it's a huge match-up. Guys protect the ball, guys take care of the ball. That's been our statement throughout the years, and we've got to continue to play that way.

Q. On how much more ready Mike Hartline is compared to years past.

COACH PHILLIPS: He's been through it, you know, he understands going down into The Swamp. It's pretty tough. He didn't play a lot in that game (two years ago). Randall was actually the guy that played. But he's been there. He's been on the road in all the SEC stadiums, so this should be real helpful for him.

He's seen the blitz-o-rama that Charlie (Strong) had the last couple years, that (Nick) Saban has had and that you saw this year at Louisville, and this team is no different, so he'll be prepared for that.

Q. If Florida's defensive game plan is similar to when Charlie Strong was there or if it is different?

COACH PHILLIPS: They're very similar. He's a friend of mine (Teryl Austin), also, came from the NFL. He's got the same type of blitz package, especially on 3rd down. Those are the things we have to stay away from is 3rd and longs. I'd like to stay away from 3rd downs, but 3rd and longs are hard, hard, hard to manage against a team like this that puts a lot of speed on the field. On 3rd down, takes a couple defensive lineman out and puts in a lot of speed guys, therefore they are able to disguise blitzes a little bit better because they're fast enough to get back into coverage and they're fast enough to show blitz from the line of scrimmage. That's what you've got to stay out of, 3rd and longs against this team.

Q. On how the loss of Moncell Allen affects the offensive game plan.

COACH PHILLIPS: Well, it hurts, no question about that. It hurts your two-back running game. But we'll have to use two tight ends a little bit more to create some two-back running games. One of the guys will be off, and the motion guy will be Jordan Aumiller. I got his name in for you (laughter). He'll be a guy that will be a move guy -- when the tight end is the move guy, he's nothing more than a fullback and gives you a two-back running game.

We're going to have to count on those guys a lot more without Moncell being in there. Moncell has been outstanding for us, especially on the perimeter block. I think many would argue on the perimeter he's blocked as well as John and probably a little bit better than John Conner on the perimeter. John Conner, with his size is little bit more of a load (on inside blocking), but on the perimeter Moncell has done an outstanding job of mowing people down for us.

Q. (Did not get the question - something about factors involved in not having offensive turnovers).

COACH PHILLIPS: You've got to have all three. You'd better have some luck because the ball has been on the ground, especially in our kicking. We mishandled a punt in the first game, then we get hit by a punt the second game, got hit by a punt the third game, also, so you'd better be lucky, too. But we put a huge emphasis -- we had a turnover circuit during fall camp that we created our defense to create (turnovers), try to make some situations where our offense had to secure the ball.

I think the way Mike is playing, also, has helped us. He's throwing the ball away when he needs to, when he has some pressure. He's not forcing the ball, also. And our offensive line has to help, too. We've had a lot of balls tipped. That's when you get a lot of interceptions, when the ball is tipped. Our running back -- we've always done a really good job as far as securing the ball with our running back.

You have to have all three to be successful at not turning the ball over. I've never been on a team that had not put the ball on the ground -- or turned it over in three games. I'd like to be on one that has done it in four games, too.

Q. Regarding Derrick Locke.

COACH PHILLIPS: He's been outstanding. He had two unbelievable runs last week that I saw, one that he -- we were going towards the Nicholasville Road side of the field and he bounced to the left toward the press box side, put his foot in the ground, got vertical, got about five yards. He got five extra yards after he put his foot in the ground and got vertical. We probably wouldn't have seen that a few years ago because he would have tried to continue to circle the defense and there's no way he could have gained leverage on them, but in the past he would have tried to gain leverage.

And then the touchdown run was outstanding. He stepped on defenders' toes and made them miss. He switched the ball from one side -- from his outside arm to free up his inside arm to use it to ward off defenders. He's catching the ball well, playing special teams.

And probably the most important play of the game was watching Derrick Locke go in there and catch those two punts, because we've been worried about -- with all the things that Randall (Cobb) is doing -- who would be our second punt returner because there hasn't been any proven guy, and I think that's the most important thing that I that I we saw. Derrick Locke -- very valuable to this football team, no question about that. He's a dynamic player that can go 80 yards, and there's very few backs that can go 80 yards in college football, period. I hate that one went 80 yards on us in the first game, but Derrick Locke is one of those guys that can go 80 yards.

Q. On the previous bad starts vs. Florida and if the team has competed with them after the bad starts.

COACH PHILLIPS: They scored 28 two years ago down there in the first half. What did they score last year? Yeah, after that we haven't matched but we've been close, three quarters with them in the last two years. So it's important for us to start fast. It's important for us to play for 60 minutes. This has got to be our best football game. We've got to play for four quarters. It's got to be our best in all three phases. It's got to be our best game offensively, and I'm not saying putting up more yardage than we did last week. We've got to play better than we did last week as a whole. On defense we've got to play better than we did in the first three games, and also on special teams. We've got to play better -- it's got to be our best game in all three phases.

Q. On what you can do to keep the players from getting intimidated.

COACH PHILLIPS: That has to have happened in the off-season. We think we've put them through some mental toughness, some different things to work on mental toughness. This team will not be a team intimidated by The Swamp or playing in a game like this. Coach Rock (Oliver) has done an unbelievable job and our staff has done an unbelievable job of making sure this team is mentally tough and mentally prepared for these type of games.

Q. On what to do to with Cobb and if he will be limited in the first half in order to keep him available in the second half.

COACH PHILLIPS: I mean, that's nothing. We've got to go. If we want to start fast he has to have the ball. We've got to go. We can't hold anything back or anybody back in this game.

Q. On if Taylor Wyndham will have to have security when he gets to the stadium.

COACH PHILLIPS: (Laughing) no, no, we'll be fine. We'll be fine. We'll be a few miles away from Gainesville. Maybe Eric Scott, I can loan him Eric Scott (former UK football player who is now a policeman).

Q. What does it mean to Derrick Locke that he is able to back up what he says.

COACH PHILLIPS: It means a lot. You know, if you're going to run your mouth like he runs his mouth, you'd better be able to back it up. You'd better. I mean, he's the first to come in our office privately and tell me, Coach, we need black jerseys, or we need to do this, or can we wear this for this, because we let the seniors dictate what we wear when we travel, he's the first guy to come in. But you've got to respect a guy like that. You've got to listen to a guy that's been as productive as he has been. I love him. I think he's definitely grown up a lot, a lot since last year even. Last year he did some things that we didn't always like, but hey, he's showed up to play every game he's been in.

Q. On Derrick saying he still has to earn his scholarship.

COACH PHILLIPS: Everybody does. We talk about it. Everybody does. We've still got to earn it. I'll take it tomorrow if he didn't. (Laughter.) I'll get removed from this job if I do that. (Laughter)

Q. Will the team wear black jerseys in the future?

COACH PHILLIPS: Hey, we are blue and white, and that's who we are. I'm a Kentuckian through and through, and all I've ever seen is blue and white.

Q. On how Taylor Wyndham is playing.

COACH PHILLIPS: He's playing well, he is. He's playing really, really well for us. A lot of pressure on the quarterback, getting off blocks, making plays. Not a real big guy but he's been a guy that closes the gap and making plays bounce. A lot of people don't understand that. A lot of times just making the play bounce gives the linebacker or a cornerback enough time to get up there and make a play for a little gain. You can't get circled. If you have your guy in the backfield, it makes the play bounce. Sometimes when you do get circled, it gives the cornerback a chance to come up and make a play in the backfield himself. So he's been great for us.

Q. Does making a fast start have more meaning this year?

COACH PHILLIPS: Fast start means that we can't let the game get out of hand. We can't be down 28, we can't be down 14. We've got to -- we can't be sloppy like we were last week. I don't think it means any score other than we can't be down 28 points, but I just think we can't play sloppy in the first quarter.

Q. On this team having a businesslike approach.

COACH PHILLIPS: Our staff has done a good job of humbling this group, also. You know, we've got to stay humble, and our players are humble. I think a lot has to do with Randall Cobb. How humble is that guy? Mike Hartline is a humble guy. Danny Trevathan. We have a humble football team.

Every time we get on the bus we talk about it being a business trip, a business trip. It's not a slumber party. We always tell them that; it's a business trip, and our players are starting to take on that attitude. We're here for business, and our business is we want to win the East, simple as that. And if you want to win the East, you've got to go about this season business only, okay, business only. That's the attitude that we're taking.

Q. On what he will do with the kickers this week.

COACH PHILLIPS: I think we'll stick to where we're at and let those guys have a week of where they're at. Mansour will do the kickoffs, Tydlacka will do the punts and McIntosh will do the field goals. We'll stay where we're at. If we have a long opportunity on the field goal we'll probably use Mansour. We thought last week with 52 yards, we thought that was right in the range of McIntosh, and he had the distance, it just was off to the right. But we'll continue to stay where we're at with that for a week.

But if a guy is struggling in a game, we'll always have an opportunity to go back to someone else.

Q. One of the players said last time they were playing at The Swamp they were intimidated by the tradition and did he feel that was the case?

COACH PHILLIPS: I don't know. It's been a long time. I tried to forget that week, too. Like I say, we've done some things in this off-season to try to get this team mentally prepared, and we've tried to break them. We tried to break them mentally to see how they would respond, and they responded the way we wanted them to respond in the off-season, and I think that -- we're hoping that that will show up on Saturday, the mental toughness that we've gained through the off-season.

Q. What did you do to break them?

COACH PHILLIPS: It would be hard to explain. We did some things in the off-season that -- the first time that we ran gassers -- our guys had never run gassers. Eight gassers, I was thinking we were going to get some guys running out the door, quitting, leaving on us, and they didn't think they could do eight, but at 14 they were still standing. I think that made them feel good about themselves. And then at 26 they were feeling good about themselves.

I think that has a lot to do with gaining mental (toughness) -- 26 gassers. I think that has a lot to do with your mental toughness, and we have guys feeling good about where they were at and that sort of thing.

Some other things. I mean, everything that we did this off-season was competing against each other, competing against someone, every drill. We didn't have a drill that we didn't want some type of competition. I think that helps, too. We're not doing off-season drills just to get ourselves in condition. We want to put Derrick Locke and Donald Russell beside each other and compete, and may the best man win. I think that's helped this football program, this football team.

Q. What are gassers?

COACH PHILLIPS: Gassers over and back. We ran half gassers over and back, we ran fulls, over and back, over and back, across the field.

Sophomore center Matt Smith

On the beginning of SEC play …
“We know what we can do now, and we have to keep doing that going into SEC play with all these tough games coming up. It’s different going into the SEC because the competition gets a little bit tougher, and it starts with this week. Florida is our first opponent, and we have to go out there and play well.”

On why the offensive line has done such a good job of protecting quarterback Mike Hartline so far this year …
“We all have a good relationship with Hartline, and he is up there running the show, telling us what he needs. He is making all the right checks, and if he sees guys coming off the edge, he will give us checks. As an offensive line, we have a real great bond (with each other and Mike), and we know where each other is going to be.”

Senior defensive tackle Ricky Lumpkin

On the losing streak against Florida …
 “It is it’s a big thing for everyone at Kentucky. No matter what, we are not going to let down until we end some of these streaks. This week we have to try and start with Florida. We end those streaks, we will get more recognition. We have to end those streaks to get this program going in the right direction.”

On Florida’s team speed …
“It is fast. I have seen them. You make the slightest mistake they are taking it for six. Their running backs hit the hole hard and they have running backs that run hard. They are not afraid to run up the middle.  (Jeff) Demps will take it up the middle and (Emmanuel) Moody will take it, all their running backs if you give them the slightest crack of daylight they are gone for six.”

Senior running back Derrick Locke

On whether he or the team is anxious for the chance to step it up in the SEC play …
“Yes. It’s going to show us if we are going to be able to compete or not. It’s a big game for us. We are now in SEC play, and that’s what everybody wants to know, how good our offense can be against an SEC opponent. We will find out.”

On the lack of good starts in the past vs. Florida …
“I feel like if we don’t have blocked punts, and things like that, then we can go toe-to-toe with those guys. If we go out there, and have blocked punts, then we will lose. It’s hard to come back like that. You give them that momentum, and the game is over. That is something that has happened the past two years, and that is something that we definitely don’t want to happen this year.”

On the cause playing clean in terms of turning the ball over the first three weeks of the year
“It’s not luck. I feel like we are playing good football right now. With this game, and this opponent, our margin of error goes down a lot. So a pick, or a turnover, or a false start could get you beat real quickly. We can’t have any wasted plays. If every play is a positive gain, and we play like that, then we have a chance. If not, then we don’t.”

Sophomore defensive end Taylor Wyndham

On having a knack for big plays since coming to UK …
“I just try to put my team in the position to win. I try to do whatever (it takes to win) and work my butt of trying to get to the ball. I just want to do anything I can to set my team up to get a victory.”

On if he thinks the fans will be on him hard after the sack of Tim Tebow last year …
“They probably will be. He was a really good player he did a lot of good things for the program. I see it every now and then. It was just a hit that people blew it out of proportion.”