Joker Phillips Press Conference Coverage
Oct. 3, 2011
Head Coach Joker Phillips
COACH PHILLIPS: First our injury situation. Collins Ukwu will still be out. Raymond Sanders had a chance to run yesterday, did not swell. We'll take a look at him tomorrow and see. If he still hasn't swollen, he could possibly practice tomorrow and could possibly play if the swelling is still down. Sam Simpson is out with back (injury). Mark Crawford could possibly miss practice on Tuesday with an AC sprain in his shoulder, but we think he'll have an opportunity to play on Saturday. Gene McCaskill, who did not travel to LSU, is questionable also whether or not he'll play.
Another huge challenge for us, we're getting ready to play our third straight top-20 team. We played the No. 15, the No. 1, the No. 18. 18 just went from 10 to 18, so another huge challenge for us.
Offensively they are balanced, but one of the top teams in the league in rushing, has a guy who is probably a Heisman candidate. You guys would have to determine that. I think he definitely is, but that's for you guys to determine.
Defensively they're number one in the league in pass defense. If freshmen could come out (for the NFL Draft), he'd be the number one pick in (Jadeveon) Clowney, second in the league in sacks, behind his counterpart (Melvin) Ingram, who is first in the league in sacks, one of the bigger athletes in the league. (South Carolina is) Number one in sacks with 13 on defense.
Again, a big challenge for us, but another opportunity for us to see how much we've improved, if we've improved. I think we did improve last week defensively. We did not play especially well on offense, which is an area we have to get better at.
Q. Coach Spurrier talked about shaking things up this week. What do you think of what they're doing so far? What needs shaking up?
COACH PHILLIPS: I hope they shake it up and don't turn it over to 21 (Lattimore). That's the shaking up I'd like to see done.
You could go in there and hand it off to 21 and still have success. (The team is) Rushing for 197 yards (per game). I don't know what shaking up needs to be done when you're putting up the numbers that they're putting up offensively, averaging 31 points a game.
Q. How different is this challenge than what you faced with LSU and Florida?
COACH PHILLIPS: All three of them are difficult. They're big challenges. Again, you've got to play clean. I thought for the most part last week defensively we played good enough to win. You can't allow your defense to play as many snaps as quick as they had to go in the game.
We had eight three-and-outs out of 14 possessions. That's not very good. It's really tough on your defense. You give these guys the amounts of possessions that we had last week with the short amount of time for your defense to play. I think these guys (South Carolina) are a little bit faster than the group we just saw, and just as physical, especially the running back position. I think he's (Lattimore) probably a little faster than the backs we saw last week and just as physical.
Last week they (LSU) didn't try to get the perimeter as much in the run game as this group will try to get him on the perimeter. They'll also try to run downhill on you. Offense has to keep them off the field as long as we can.
Q. Re: Bookie Cobbins
COACH PHILLIPS: We have to find out if we can find another play-maker. We'll practice him this week at some other positions also, just try to see if he can provide some play-making abilities.
We'll look at him at some other positions and just try to figure out whether or not he can go in the game and help us.
Also, if you're going to play a guy after going into your sixth game of the season, he's got to play enough to warrant taking a redshirt off of him. We got to figure that out also.
Q. He was also recruited by LSU, Florida State.
COACH PHILLIPS: I don't know who all recruited him, who all offered him. A lot of people looked at him. I'm not sure exactly what people recruited him as. I know we recruited him as a quarterback, got a chance to get him. Definitely an athlete, no question about that. We got to figure out if he's good enough to help us, and help us out this year. We'll try him out at receiver, some at the quarterback position, too.
Q. What are some of the things you saw out of Morgan in fall camp that really impressed you that you're not seeing on Saturday?
COACH PHILLIPS: Not getting rid of the ball. Got to get the ball out of your hands. We've given up 21 sacks. You try to dissect those plays, try to find out how we're getting sacked so much. A lot of those sacks have been his holding the ball too long. A lot of it gets put on the offensive line. It's not always the line. Sometimes it's the back. Sometimes it's just the line. Sometimes it's just the wide receivers. Sometimes it's the quarterback.
Q. You talked about not getting as many play-makers as you hoped for. Is that a recruiting issue?
COACH PHILLIPS: We lost a pretty good one (Randall Cobb) that we expected to be here also. Do you expect three years ago that a guy would leave here as a junior? No. So we've lost some guys. Graduation got us. We feel like there's some young ones here, but they haven't done it yet.
Q. Re: receivers getting open
COACH PHILLIPS: At times. The separation is very small at this level. It's not as big as it is at the next level. Some people say separation is not enough to throw it in there. Sometimes it is. We've got to recognize it at that position. Open is not from me to him. That's not open. That's open, that's wide open, okay? Open is this far (coach holds hands apart). Next level, it's that far (coach holds hands closer).
Q. Talk about the decision to stick with Matt Roark.
COACH PHILLIPS: Well, E.J. Fields didn't practice on Wednesday or Thursday. Matt plays that position that E.J. played. Matt made a couple plays for us. Really good blocker for us. He's probably the best blocker for us on the perimeter. You also see his attitude, the way he plays on the special teams. It's a guy that doesn't get his head down when he hasn't made plays because he bounces back and plays special teams. Let's give him another opportunity. He took advantage of it this past week.
Q. How much do you think drops have hurt Morgan?
COACH PHILLIPS: It definitely hurt. I played quarterback before, too. That definitely hurts a quarterback's psyche. If we're not making plays for him, it hurts the whole offense.
You take the first game, you have as many drops as we had, it starts to affect the whole offense. You come back the next week, you have probably more, then the next week about the same. This past week we didn't have as many, but we didn't attempt as many passes. We didn't get as many off also.
But we talk about the sacks, only dropping back 25 times (vs. LSU). Actually we dropped back a little bit more than that. We ran a few of them. It looks like we only caught 25. A couple had to throw away.
Q. Do you have anybody who is as demonstrative on the sideline that gets fired up?
COACH PHILLIPS: Offensively?
COACH PHILLIPS: No. Everybody talks about Randall. We've been studying this thing. The guy who made the huge difference, Mike Hartline. People won't like to hear that. He made a great difference in getting our protection set, getting the ball out of his hands, getting the ball to those guys who made plays for us. Hartline is a huge, huge loss. We had three really good players in Randall, (Derrick) Locke and Mike. Locke ran around the edge when we didn't have the edge. We don't have that ability right now. But Mike Hartline was the guy I think that was probably the biggest loss that we have.
Q. When you look at Morgan, do you scratch your head or do you go, close?
COACH PHILLIPS: Close. A couple runs we were close on. A couple passes we were close on. He's close to being the type of leader that you want.
We're in a world where you want to be close now, you know. Coaches, we're competitive. We want to be close now. He's competitive. He wants to be better now. He's working at it, working really hard at it.
Q. (more on Hartline)
COACH PHILLIPS: It's hard to see 3,000 yards walk out the door. The guy made some huge plays, 25, 26 touchdowns. The backup quarterback is always going to be the more popular guy in any organization. Morgan was popular. Mike Hartline was popular at one time.
But, you know, we're making decisions. Made the decision last year who we thought gave us the best chance to win. We thought he did a good job at that and we made the decision this year also.
Q. When you talk about Clowney, Ingram, their ability to sack, what is it about them physically that makes them so good?
COACH PHILLIPS: Just watching a couple clips of Clowney, athletic. The running back tries to go cut him, he hurdles him. Gets his feet down on the ground faster than anybody I've ever seen. Goes and causes a fumble. He's just so long. He's athletic. He's a powerful guy.
You see Ingram all over the place. He's (running fake) punts. I think he has two or three touchdowns, I know he has two for sure watching the film, the punt team. I think he might have had one last week. Just a guy that's athletic.
There's been even mention of them putting him at tailback. That tells you what type of athlete he is. He has played inside which tells you how powerful he is. Now he's playing on the outside which tells you how athletic he is.
Q. Re: playing freshman wide receiver Demarco Robinson more
COACH PHILLIPS: Last week with all the press coverage, how long and physical those DBs were that we played against, guy (Robinson) is 155 pounds. Maybe like child abuse putting him in the game last week (laughter from media). We decided we'll get him in the game, if we knew for sure it was going to be a little bit more ‘off’ coverage. Then having to block, we did not feel that this was a game that he could hold up in the block game also. So we played those other guys.
Q. re: E.J. Fields
COACH PHILLIPS: Fields was injured last week. He got injured, didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday. There's one day of preparation for him.
In the past, we might have played him. But we've seen how some of our guys this year at that position have performed after only practicing one day. We just didn't want to go through that 'cause we just didn't think they had been prepared enough to play, so we decided to play the other guys that had been at practice.
Q. Is there a quarterback competition right now?
COACH PHILLIPS: There's always a competition at every position. Morgan still gives us our best chance to win, though.
Q. How hard is it to coach getting rid of the ball for a quarterback and how much of it is instinct?
COACH PHILLIPS: How much is it the coach? One of the things, he got to trust that this guy is going to make a play for them and he's open. Go through your reads. Is that one open? You don't think so, no. Is the next one open? You don't think so, go with it. Get it out of your hand or pull it down and run for a quarterback like him.
But I think we've done a really good job of coaching quarterbacks around here. We'll get Morgan right also.
Q. re: if he expects South Carolina to change systems if the quarterback changes.
COACH PHILLIPS: They're going to do what they do. It's different than going from the two quarterbacks we saw last week, going back to the athletic guy. I think these two guys (South Carolina QBs) are similar. He (Spurrier) always goes from a drop-back passer to a drop-back passer. His system or play calling doesn't change.
Last week found out on Thursday morning (that LSU QB Jefferson might play), late Wednesday night, that was difficult.
Q. (re: going into next week’s bye week on a win or loss) Would winning this week help things in terms of morale?
COACH PHILLIPS: Definitely. Winning helps everything. It helps everything. But we've been in a bye week with some of the biggest negative things we've ever been around and came out of it by winning a lot of games.
Like I say, winning helps everything. I'm not sure it helps going into a bye if we don't win. We'll use this bye to get ourselves better, get ourselves even more prepared for the second half of the season.
Q. re: CoShik Williams not playing vs. LSU
COACH PHILLIPS: Again, he didn't practice on Wednesday or Thursday. He did make it to the game. But it was just a matter of we have seen this year guys not practice on Wednesday, offensively, then get a couple reps on Thursday. We just felt like it was right.
Jonathan (George) had been sharp. Had Jonathan not been that sharp, we probably would have played CoShik. Jonathan was sharp enough so we gave him the reps. It was nothing that CoShik did wrong. He had a toe did didn't allow him to practice on Wednesday, but was able to make the game. We decided to go with the other guy.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
#20, Josh Clemons, RB
On his thoughts of South Carolina …
“They are going to be ready to play. It is an SEC opponent so those are the games that you need to win. I think it is going to be a battle.”
On the offense’s confidence …
“I think that we are fine. We just have to keep practicing hard every week regardless if we win or lose. We are going to have to put together a good effort this week. We just need to keep up the tempo and just focus on what we need to do and our assignments.”
On what the biggest adjustment for him has been from high school to college …
“The speed of the game has been an adjustment. Some teams are faster than others and some teams are bigger and stronger than others. Just being able to switch from game-to-game has been hard.”
#21, Winton Guy, S/LB
On the best thing the defense did vs. LSU …
“I would say the biggest positive is that we were really physical. We had a good week of preparation leading up to the game. The intensity in practice was really high. There was a lot of enthusiasm and we practiced hard.”
On what they expected against LSU …
“Going into LSU, we realized that they were going to try to run the ball every down. We did 10-times better against the run against (LSU) than we did against Florida.”
#46, Ronnie Sneed, LB
On the defense’s overall performance vs. LSU and looking to the South Carolina game …
“(We are) always going to come out and play hard. I’m sure that South Carolina is going to play with a chip on their shoulder since we came back and beat them last year.”
On if they saw the Auburn-South Carolina game …
“We got to catch some of it (during the plane ride from Baton Rouge). It was a pretty exciting game. We know our game this weekend is going to be a dogfight. It’s SEC play, and that’s what we have to do.”