Phillips Looks for More Competitive Looks in Practice

Sept. 27, 2011

LEXINGTON, Ky. – University of Kentucky football head coach Joker Phillips said after practice Tuesday that he liked the way his team competed on the practice field when they went in more competitive offense vs. defense sets.

"I thought we competed well today going ones versus twos (i.e., first team vs. second team) and ones versus ones but we've got to learn how to practice against scouts because they are giving us more of the LSU looks,” Phillips said.  “That is when we have to pick up the tempo. We may have to go more twos versus ones to get better looks and get better tempo. I think that we competed our tails off when we are going against (first- and second-teamers).”

Phillips said the first-team defense and first-team offense usually only spend about 15 minutes going against each other in practice and about 20 minutes of ones vs. twos. However, the UK head coach says that number could increase as UK prepares to face No. 1 LSU on Saturday in Baton Rouge, La.

“We usually go a 15-minute team vs. team pass, which is really a blitz period,” Phillips said. “We try to get a 20-minute period of ones vs. twos so our twos are getting their work against ones and our ones are getting a faster look. We probably get about 40 minutes of team vs. scouts. We have to do a better job of working with the scouts, and maybe we have to do a little bit more work with two versus ones.

“I am thinking about shaking it up, just to get better looks. It’s hard to simulate what you are going to see on Saturday, especially this week with how big and physical these guys are, and how fast they are.”

Phillips said defensively the Wildcats are expecting a power running game form the Bayou Bengals, which is a contrast to what UK saw last week against Florida, which tried to circle the ends with speed.

“It’s a lot of downhill stuff,” Phillips said. “Last week, what we saw was them (Florida) trying to capture the edge and these guys (LSU) are just going to try to bloody your nose. It’s just going to be that type of a game for our defense. Their defense is the same way. They try to intimidate you and come off the ball, hit you in the mouth and try to bloody your nose also. It’s going to be that type of a game.”

The UK head coach said he has seen a major difference in the play of the Kentucky offensive line in the last couple of practices with everyone more healthy and back on the field. Phillips said much of the problem in the first few weeks of the season was the players up front not getting used to playing with the person next to them, but that problem should be in the past.

“Definitely,” Phillips said when asked if he has seen a positive improvement in the UK offense line. “When we got double teams up to backers now you are seeing guys get hip to hip. The first few weeks our footwork (needed improvement) and a lot of that had to do with not playing beside a guy. Now we have gotten a lot cleaner in how we are playing up front because they guys have played together going on our second week.”

In terms of injuries, Phillips said that junior safety Martavius Neloms did practice Tuesday, but was in a red jersey and had no contact, while true freshman tailback Josh Clemons only went through individual periods of practice and no team work.