Quotes and Video from the Weekly Football Press Conference

Sept. 27, 2010

Cat Scratches: Confidence hasn't wavered after Florida loss

Head Coach Joker Phillips

FastScriptsby ASAP Sports

COACH PHILLIPS: My wife told me that there would be a day that I'd have to face you guys when I wasn't undefeated and I've been using that line ... our injury report, (Nick) Melillo will try but is probably doubtful. Yesterday tried to go a little bit but still hampered by his ankle. Collins Ukwu has an ankle, should be okay. Brian Adams has a back, but should be okay. Hurt yesterday during a drill. (Jacob) Dufrene has a quad which is from last week, should practice by Tuesday. (Stuart) Hines should be fine. Could have probably (practiced) yesterday but didn't. We'll hold him out until tomorrow, see how he looks. (Donte) Rumph has an ankle, should be fine, and Winston Guy has an ankle and should be fine.

Just looking at the tape, I really liked our effort (against Florida). We were trying to be physical and were physical at times. The disappointing thing was the penalties. We had seven penalties from 50 yards, five of those on defense, and that can't happen when you're going on the road. They weren't hustle penalties is the discouraging thing. Hustle penalties are personal fouls when you're going through the whistle. You might have a pass interference when you're hustling to the ball.

Our penalties were dumb penalties; lining up offsides, 12 guys in the huddle, two personal fouls which was retaliating to things that our opponents did. So those were discouraging things, the seven penalties.

Turnovers, two turnovers, turnover in the red zone, turnover for a touchdown, which was about 14 points.

Tackling, we talked about that last night with some of you guys. Our tackling, we're not tackling with our feet, we're not tackling with our face, we're not tackling with our eyes. And then a couple of drops that we had on offense. Those are discouraging things.

But we've got another huge challenge. Got opportunity No. 5 that's guaranteed to you, which is we go to Ole Miss. Another challenge, like I say, offensively those guys are averaging--if you look at statistics for both teams, they're about even. They're averaging about 36 points a game offensively. Third leading rushing team in this league. They've got a dual quarterback (Jeremiah Masoli) which we've had problems with in the past, and we've got to be able to go through our reads and also get people on the ground.

They have a really good rusher in Brandon Bolden, who's averaging about 7.7 yards a carry, which is a lot. Defensively they have the leading tackler in the league (Jonathan Cornell). They lost probably their best defender, the defensive end, (Kentrell) Lockett, but No. 90, (Gerald) Rivers, who we tried to recruit a few years ago, will be his replacement, and he's a good player.

And then the special forces, special teams, they returned a punt (for a touchdown) this week in special teams, really helped them win this game this week. So another challenge for us. We've got to stay focused. We can't be walking around here (despondent). At 2 and 0 I pulled our team together on Sunday, and it felt like we were 0 and 2. I don't know why, it just -- just the feeling around the whole football team, I don't know if it was hearing stuff from out in the public or what, but it felt like we were 0 and 2, and I pulled our team together and told them, hey, we are 2 and 0, okay? We're 2 and 0, let's act like we're 2 and 0. Let's get some bounce in our step, continue to forge ahead.

And same thing now; we're 3 and 1. We're 3 and 1. We've still got an opportunity to have a great season, do something special, but we can't do anything special if we don't take care of business and go down there and come away with a victory. Any questions?

Q. On the players getting over the loss.

COACH PHILLIPS: I think they're over it. I feel like they're over it. Kids get over it quicker than coaches. That's the other thing ... it lasts a little bit longer for coaches, a lot longer actually than it does for players. But as soon as you touch down in Lexington, the phones are starting to blast, the headsets, they're listening to Nelly and Kanye West. Coaches don't want to hear -- we turn our phones off. We definitely don't want to hear Nelly and those guys (laughter.) They get over it a little quicker than we do. But there's some who were still hurting when we touched down.

But this team is a confident team, there's no question about that. The things that we've put them through in the off-season, it's given them confidence.

Q. On moving the ball offensively vs. Florida.

COACH PHILLIPS: And we could. We moved the ball really well. We just had a few drops here, we had a penalty when we didn't need to, when you can't. We had a turnover. But I thought we did some good things offensively in making plays. We ran past them and made plays down the field.

The thing that I think that -- in playing a game like that early in the conference, it helped a lot of the young guys understand the speed of the game, whereas our tight ends used to capture the corner and work up to the back there and cut the linebacker, and we're also running on the perimeter; our young tight ends who stayed a little bit too long and tried to get to the next level, and it was already gone outside of them. So I think it helped us in that area.

But I think our guys still feel confident that they now understand how fast the game is played in this league, and it is played a lot faster than we had played in the first three games.

Q. On if the loss to Florida is demoralizing.

COACH PHILLIPS: Well, I mean, just letting the team run the ball is demoralizing. I've said that plenty of times. Any time you can run the football and people can run the football at will, that's demoralizing, no question about that. But we did get them stopped, especially in the first half. We had four of six series where we either caused a turnover and made them punt three times -- and then one series we're off the field and we get a penalty, and we stop them on 3rd down and we get a penalty and then they're able to continue to drive. So we did get them stopped for a time, we just couldn't continue it in the second half especially.

Q. On the importance of tackling, especially against a dual-threat quarterback such as Jeremiah Masoli.

COACH PHILLIPS: He and (Brandon) Bolden are two really good players. They have a receiver, (Markeith) Summers, who averages 23 yards a catch. So tackling is important in every game. You've got to get people to the ground where they're just not running through tacklers, through defenders. In tackling you've got to try to come out the back end of somebody. You can't think that I'm going to make a tackle from me to you and leave my feet. It just doesn't happen that way. You've got to step on people's toes. We're not stepping on people's toes and running through tackles. So it'll be very important (to tackle well).

We've got to have a couple periods just this week where we're doing some full speed tackling. We have to. I thought we got better from week 2 to week 3 because we had a week (of tackling). Between week 3 and week 4, we did not do that because we had a lot of injuries, had a lot of people beat up. So we did not do that. But we have to do it this week.

Q. Does Masoli remind you of anyone you've played?

COACH PHILLIPS: He reminds me probably a little bit (of Tim Tebow), more athletic than Tebow, and he reminds me a lot of the guys we just played, too. Those guys are really shifty. Tebow was more of a downhill guy, going to run you over, going to break tackles if you're an arm tackler.

This guy (Masoli), once he gets out in space, he's like a running back. He's not trying to run through you, he's trying to run around you. But he's also been throwing the ball pretty well, also. He's 62 percent in the passing game, and that to me equals a dual threat. He's running the ball well, averaging about five yards a carry, throwing the ball for 180-something and completed 62 percent of his passes.

He's probably a little bit more athletic than Tebow. And apparently he's a good leader, also. What he did out in Oregon and what he's doing here, apparently he's a really good leader.

Q. On avoiding negative "noise" after a loss.

COACH PHILLIPS: I've been well trained. I've been the coordinator calling plays for the last five years, so we'll be fine in that area. We'll stick to our plan, and we've got strong schemes in all three phases. We'll just continue to work. We're 3 and 1, okay, we're 3 and 1; we're not 0 and 4 and we're not going to act like we're 0 and 4. We're going to act like we're 3 and 1 and act like we've got another opportunity, another opportunity to be 4 and 1.

Q. On turnover margin.

COACH PHILLIPS: Yeah, we were a little bit overconfident last week with not having a turnover (in the first three games), and we tried to stick one in when we should have just laid off and not tried to be greedy. What Coach (Randy) Sanders said, be needy, not greedy. We tried to get a little bit greedy and got picked in the red zone. But we've got to create turnovers on the road, and you can't turn the ball over on the road.

As I said last week, we were 3 and 0 in the league for the past three (road) games, the only reason why is we only turn the ball over two times in three games and we created six in those three games. So that was a huge difference. We gave up two and only had one last week. So turnover margin was huge, and also rushing yardage is huge in games on the road.

Q. On the danger of trying to force turnovers instead of playing basic defense.

COACH PHILLIPS: No, we've got to make tackles. The first guy has got to wrap it up and the second guy is the one that's got to try to create the turnover. Also, interceptions, a lot of them come with your offensive line. The offensive line has done a good job of keeping people's hands down. We did get the ball tipped last week. Defensively we've got to get our hands up and create some tipped balls, also, which can turn into turnovers.

Q. On the UK offensive line.

COACH PHILLIPS: Well, our offensive line, we didn't give up a sack last week until late in the game. Our offensive line is playing really well, communicating well, playing physical. We've got to try to get more up to the second level this week. We didn't get to the second level as much as we'd like, but I thought we did a good job on the down four last week.

Q. On the play of the linebackers vs. Florida and how Qua Huzzie did in his first start.

COACH PHILLIPS: I don't think we played very well at linebacker because I thought six of our defensive linemen we thought played really, really well for us, they held their gaps. Defensive linemen, a lot of people get a misunderstanding of a defensive lineman's place. A lot of times his job is just to hold his gap, put his guy in his gap. The next level guy, which is the linebackers and the safeties, it's their job to fill those gaps that are open. So I don't think we did a good enough job at the linebacker. A lot of missed tackles at the second and the third level that we've got to make.

Qua made some plays. When he left his feet -- when you leave your feet and you're 5'10", that's a lot of room being missed at that area. So he's got to play a lot faster and he's got to play -- he's got to be a guy that runs through people. He did it at times. At times he didn't, especially in space. We've got to be better tacklers in space.

Q. On getting players in a positive mentality after a loss.

COACH PHILLIPS: I don't know. I mean, a lot of it comes from outside. People are talking about defense wasn't doing this. Our defense in spurts was playing really, really well. We've only given up 300 yards a game defensively, which we're in the top five, top six in our league. We had to reel those guys back in and let those guys know, we're 3 and 0, we're not 0 and 3. We're now 3 and 1, and I haven't gotten the feeling that our guys think that they're 0 and 4. But I just don't want our football team to think that we're not 3 and 1. We're not 0 and 4, we're 3 and 1, and we've got to stay positive.

Like I say, we can't listen to the noise. I know there will be noise next time. It comes with it. But we don't need noise within our locker room, that's the thing.

Q. On how he is getting the players in a positive mentality.

COACH PHILLIPS: Well, the first thing we did is we called them up two Sundays ago and told them, get some life. Get some life. We're playing really, really good at times. Let's eliminate the mistakes, let's eliminate the seven penalties that we had.

We try to build on the positives. One of the positives last week, we had one penalty on offense in a hostile environment. We had one false start penalty, and that was while we were trying to make a check and the offensive lineman was heavy on his hand and he moved. But we've got to build on the positives, and there was a lot of positives that were made in the Florida game.

We started a guard who had never played guard before (Billy Joe Murphy) and he held up fine. You wouldn't have known we had a new guard in there. So we've just got to build on the positives and try to forge ahead. We've got good players in all three phases, we've just got to continue to build on it.

Q. On the importance of this week's game in order to have a great season.

COACH PHILLIPS: Definitely, yeah, I do. If you want to have a great season, this is a game that we've got to have. We've got to go on the road and beat opponents. And same last week, I said the same thing. If you want to have a great season, do something special, you've got to go on the road and beat the Floridas. If you want to do something, do something great, you've got to go on the road and beat the Ole Misses.

Q. On Mark Crawford

COACH PHILLIPS: Mark Crawford played well for us. He played with a lot of fire, with a lot of emotion. He got out of his gaps a couple times and they made plays on us. But we want guys to play like Mark Crawford.

I said that in the spring. He was playing as good as anybody, he did some things that we had to suspend him, and I think he took a step backwards when that happened. He's now starting to take some steps forward, and he went nose to nose with those guys and knocked them back. He got knocked back some, but he's a physical guy that loves to play this game, and we've just got to get more people playing like him, not just up front, we have to get people in the second level and the third level and on offense playing like Mark Crawford because he plays with a lot of emotions, and that's the way you have to play this game.

Q. On making personnel changes on defense.

COACH PHILLIPS: No, we're not going to make any personnel changes. I think we've got good personnel, the best available that we have. We'll play a lot of defensive linemen. It doesn't really matter who's starting up front because they all play. We've got to roll in four tackles or five tackles. We've got to roll four in (at defensive end). We've got to find out who that fourth man is. Is it Tristian Johnson, is it Nermin Delic? Two weeks ago we went with Nermin, this past week we went with Tristian Johnson.

The next level we've got four guys that we'll play in Ridge Wilson and Dufrene. Those two guys rotate. So it doesn't really matter who starts at that position because they both rotate and they're both getting snaps.

Same thing at middle linebacker. We've got to continue to rotate those guys (Ronnie Sneed and Qua Huzzie), so it doesn't really matter who starts. But we've got to have Danny Travathan in there from the first snap to the last snap.

Q. On why receivers got open over the middle vs. Florida.

COACH PHILLIPS: You're chasing routes. When you're in zone coverage you can't chase underneath routes. You've got to stay in your zone and get ready to drive those short routes. We had guys that were chasing the underneath routes. You've just got to let those things -- let those stay in front of you and don't let them go over the top of you by staying in your zone. We had guys that were jumping the underneath routes, opening up a huge void in our zone, and they were able to hit them over the top of us.

Other things, man-to-man coverage, they hit us a couple times with the man-to-man coverage. You've just got to squeeze over the top shoulder and make sure we're making the plays. Did it a couple times and we had a couple pass breakups, but at times they leaned on you and you have to continue to press them. They leaned on us and pressed away from us and were able to make plays.

Q. On improvement shown by Ole Miss in last week's win.

COACH PHILLIPS: Well, they're playing faster, no question about it. Actually their offense changed a little bit from game 3 to this past game. They went to more of the zone read, looked more like a wildcat package all the time where they're bringing a guy in motion and running some zone reads. Defensively they're all over the place, especially when they get you on 3rd downs, just like everybody in this league.

They are really an attack team and aggressive when they get you in 3rd down situations. They're just playing with a little bit more confidence, and their quarterback now is starting to get a little bit more comfortable with what they're doing with him. A lot more comfortable.

Q. On Chris Matthews.

Last year you saw him coming off the ball and he was continuing to look at the defense to try to figure out what was going on. Now he's playing a lot faster, being a lot more aggressive in attacking the football.

We thought that. We thought Chris would make a huge improvement, and we thought he was making some improvement at the end of last year. Practices and spring practice definitely helped him, helped his confidence, helped his confidence in our offense.

We also did some things where we don't have him to sight adjust as much, so we had to tweak our offense, and Coach (Mike) Summers did some things to us that gives us a chance for Chris to play a little bit faster so he doesn't have look to sight adjust, he doesn't have to be the hot guy, he doesn't have to be the breakout guy, he can just go out and play. And that's a tribute to Coach Summers and the offensive line picking up a lot of things that in the past we had to sight adjust, and Chris, it was hard for him to pick up.

Q. On Chris Matthews' possibility of being a pro prospect.

COACH PHILLIPS: I think he's a pro. You've got to consider him a pro because he's 6'4" and athletic and has great hands, and he's a tough guy. He's a pro anyway, and I told him this. I told him this last year. You're a pro, it's just a matter of now how good of a chance are you going to get. Are you going to be a free agent? At 6'4" and as well as he runs, he's at least a free agent.

Now, play yourself into a draft pick, a 7th rounder, 6th rounder, it's up to him. I think he's now playing himself into being a draft pick. He's no longer a free agent, I can tell you that now. He's definitely a draft pick. How high, it depends on how well he continues to play.

Q. On Matthews' ability to get past the Florida defensive backs.

COACH PHILLIPS: Yeah, and they sat on it for a lot of reps, which is why they create turnovers. They get pressure so the defensive backs don't have to back up, which should give you a chance to run fast guys through there. But just the fact that Chris did get behind them and make two big plays for us. One they did not call a catch. Actually he ran past them three times. One he ran past, one was a double move which you have to do, especially when what happened on the interception for a touchdown. When that happens you've got to come back and run some type of double move. We did and got behind him.

But just the fact that he's getting over the top -- and I said this a couple weeks ago. At 6'4" you've got a 5'10" guy (defending you); that's open. I don't care how close he is to you. This is open. Chris has got to go up over him and take the ball, and he did do it a couple times. And then the last one he ran past him with a double move. I think that's got to help his confidence, got to help Mike Hartline's confidence, being able to throw the ball up, and the 6'4" guy goes up and takes the throw.

#75, Brad Durham, OL, Sr.

On if the Ole Miss game is bigger than the Florida game ...
"Any game is the biggest game, whether it is Florida, Ole Miss or Auburn. We have got to go down there and face adversity again and come out with a win."

On if he is anxious to show that they are better than what they showed at UF ...
 "Definitely, we have a lot of mistakes to clean up and a lot of mistakes to come back and fix."

On if Florida's speed was overwhelming ...
 "No not really, we have a lot of speed too. So we are at the caliber now where we have depth that we may have not had two or three years ago. I don't think speed was a factor; they got the win and outplayed us in some parts of the game and a couple breaks."

#21, Winston Guy, SS, Jr.

On how important this game vs. Ole Miss is ...
 "I think that we just have to look past Florida. We lost and we can't have that burden on our back, we just have to get ready for Ole Miss. We need to correct the mistakes we made and we need to be more consistent like we were these past games before Florida."

On if this game is bigger than the Florida game ...
"Not necessarily, I think that all the games are big because it is SEC now. We need to be more consistent playing on the road it's the toughest thing. Ole Miss is still going to be a hostile environment like Florida. We just have to play four quarters."

#8, Chris Matthews, WR, Sr.

On his overall reaction to the Florida loss ...
"I feel like we didn't cap off the drives that we needed to cap off. We will just put this game behind us, and we look forward to going out there and playing Ole Miss."

On what the major mistakes were against Florida ...
"I felt as though we put everything out there on the field. They were just the better team."

On whether this was his best game ever in a Kentucky uniform ...
"Yes, this was my best game at Kentucky. I am just looking forward to having many games just like that, and unfortunately we had the loss. I would have definitely traded the win in for all of the stats, but it didn't happen. "

On what created his offensive success...
"There were a lot of one-on-one match-ups. We had a really good game plan coming in, and we just tried to execute it."

#68, Luke McDermott, DT, Jr.

On bouncing back from the loss at Florida ...
"We just have to learn from all the mistakes we made. There are bright spots in the game, but we have a lot to learn. I'm glad we got to play Florida early in the season because they magnified our mistakes and now we can get better, because now we know what to work on."

On what to work on, what mistakes were made ...
"I can really only speak for me personally, but in the run game, the point of attack and what I was thinking pre-snap."

On what to focus on when playing Ole Miss this Saturday...
"They have a really good mobile quarterback, so we have to contain him and play smart with the pass rush. Also, stop the run like always."

#52 Billy Joe Murphy, OL, Jr.

On the challenges facing him from the transition from the right side to the left ...
"Not a huge challenge really. The techniques are different because the steps are opposite. Other than that I really don't think there is much difference. Some people are more acclimated to push off their left or right foot, but I have been practicing both since I have been here, so I have kind of got used to that. You don't want to get caught on the wrong side because you will get beat really bad."

On bouncing back from the Florida loss ...
"We had a lot of positive things to build on, and we were a couple of plays away from making it a really close game. We lost, and we have to put it behind us, and focus on the next game. The next game is the most important game on our schedule just because it is the next one. And you can't look behind you."

On the advantages of playing Florida early in the season ...
"That was the toughest game we have had all season for sure, and when you play a team like that this early in the season ... it gives you a great chance to look at film and get better. We have done that. We watched the film, and there were a whole bunch of learning situations."