Phillips Wants Wildcats to Relax and Play Ball

Sept. 29, 2011

LEXINGTON, Ky. – University of Kentucky football head coach Joker Phillips had a clear message after practice Thursday, saying that the Wildcats have a good opportunity in front of them when they travel to face No. 1 LSU in Baton Rouge, La., on Saturday at 12:21 p.m. ET.

“We have heck of an opportunity and I have told the team that,” Phillips said. “A lot of people view it as a huge challenge, but we view it as a huge opportunity for us to go down there and see how much we have improved this week and if we have improved. I think that we have improved this week in practice considering how we went about our business Tuesday and how we finished today.”

Phillips said mistakes have been costly for the Wildcats this season, but that it is unrealistic to expect a perfect performance on Saturday. The head coach said what his team needs to do is just relax, play ball and don’t let mistakes mount up when they happen.

“That is one thing that we talked about,” Phillips said. “You can’t play perfect. There are no perfect games out there that have no mistakes. You have 22 guys out there at a time and have 70 snaps there is going to be some mistakes out there. What we have to do is, once a mistake happens, we need to relax and regroup and make a play on the other side and go play ball and make up for it. What we can’t do is make another mistake and get all tense and all uptight and then it starts to mount and you make more mistakes. We have to relax and play ball.

“Let’s just go down there and play and make sure that we continue to improve. You can improve during the game, every snap. Let’s go see what happens.”

Phillips, who was the offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach on the 2007 UK team that shocked No. 1 LSU at Commonwealth Stadium, said he won’t talk much about the historic 2007 win to the 2011 team, but they will talk about the game and other UK wins against the Tigers.

“Maybe on Friday night we will get into it a little bit, but very little,” Phillips said. “I am sure that Andre’ (Woodson) has been getting interviews about it and a couple other guys, but I haven’t talked to this team about it much. I’ll talk about that and the past times that we have been down there. A lot of those guys don’t even remember that game in 2007.”

Kentucky will be without wide receiver Gene McCaskill on Saturday, who will not travel with the team to Baton Rouge because of injury. McCaskill, who has three catches for 43 yards this season, did not play last week against Florida. Two more starters, defensive end Collins Ukwu and tailback Raymond Sanders, continue to be sidelined.  As reported Wednesday, true freshman running back Josh Clemons and junior safety Martavius Neloms also are expected to play.