Joker Phillips News Conference Quotes and Video
Oct. 25, 2010
Cat Scratches Video: Hartline, Burden, Wyndham
Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips
COACH PHILLIPS: Injury report: La'Rod King, probably won't get him back until Thursday, but we think we'll get him for Saturday for sure in a limited role. Cartier Rice will be back either Wednesday or Thursday with an ankle. Martavius Neloms will be non contact in practice for the remainder of the week, and we should have him on Saturday. And same with Derrick Locke, should have him on Saturday, hopefully. He will practice this week in a non contact role and we'll continue to try to see what type of strength he does get back in his arm.
Another announcement, Matt Roark will be suspended for violating team rules, and he will miss this game.
Big game for us (vs. Mississippi State). Got a chance to play a ranked opponent on the road. Guys are playing really good right now. They have a five game win streak.
Offensively they're second in the league in rushing, which is how you win in this league is running the football. They're second in 3rd down conversions, 48 percent, which is a really high number. And the reason why they are so high is they do a really good job on 1st and 2nd down of giving them 3rd and shorts and then converting them.
Got a really good runner in the junior college transfer (Vick Ballard). He's tied for second in the league in rushing touchdowns actually first with (Cam) Newton and (Marcus) Lattimore, so that tells you what type of runner he is. He's got 12 touchdowns and averaging 6.6 yards a carry.
On defense they are third in the SEC and one of the tops in the country on scoring defense, giving up 17 points a game. They're fifth in rushing, which is how you win in this league is stop the run. You run the ball, stop the run, you've got a chance to win.
Their linebacker, Chris White, has similar numbers to the (Justin) Houston kid we just played from Georgia. He's got five sacks, has 12 tackles for a loss, has 70 tackles, and he's their leader on their defense.
And you look at our four losses, the thing that we have to do that we keep talking every week, the common denominator, is in our four losses we've turned the ball over ten times and we've only created three in our four losses. So we're minus seven in our four losses and our four wins, and we haven't turned the ball over, and we've created eight. So we're plus eight when we do win the game.
That speaks volumes to me. The thing we've got to do is create turnovers and we've got to protect the football to win games in this league.
Q. You've played really well on the road. Why do you think that is? Do you think maybe that can propel you this week going down there?
COACH PHILLIPS: You know, we had played well until we went to Ole Miss and Florida. Ole Miss we played similar to what we did Saturday. Very similar games if you look at both of those games. It was very similar, offensively turned the ball over, gave our defense some short fields, gave up a special teams touchdown.
We've got to get to where we were playing last year on the road. Last year I thought we played really well on the road. We try to keep the same routine on the road as we do at home, so hopefully that will help us, also.
But this year I don't think we've played as well on the road as we have in the past.
Q. What did you do last year? I know some of the things you did when you won was you didn't have turnovers like you did against Auburn last week, but what made you a good road team last year?
COACH PHILLIPS: Ran the football. We ran the football at Georgia, we ran the football at Auburn last year, and we didn't turn the ball over. We did not turn the ball over. Those are the things that we did.
Ran it even when it was 3rd and 7, 8, we ran the football and got ourselves into 4th and shorts last year, and that's what we had to (do to) beat last year.
But I think that's the reason why we did so well last year on the road is we came out a lot more physical by saying we were going to run the football at you.
Q. Having Locke back there, does that help?
COACH PHILLIPS: It helps, but we won a big game two weeks ago without Locke, too. Our backs did a good job picking up blitzes, and we just struggled the last couple weeks to run the ball, period. He gives us the ability to throw the screens, to throw some of the flares, and we did last week, but I think he gets a little bit more than the backs that we had in there.
But we won one game without him, too. We're looking forward to getting him back because he's a guy that can I said this in preseason, that he's one of the few guys in this league that can go 80 yards, so we're definitely looking forward to getting him back.
Q. Re: MSU quarterback Chris Relf
COACH PHILLIPS: He's rushed for 400 yards. Like I said, that's what they committed to do, to run the football, control Because of the way they're playing on defense, I think it's a great plan, run the football, don't turn it over, punt is not a bad play. He's completing about 55 percent of his passes. They always have numbers. When you've got a quarterback that can run the ball like he can, similar to Auburn they don't ask him to run it as much because of the Ballard kid, but they always have numbers against you when you've got a quarterback that can run the football like that.
Q. Why were you able to run the ball the ball better in the second half vs. Georgia?
COACH PHILLIPS: It turned into a game that they knew we had to pass, and they started blowing up the field, which gave us a chance to run some traps, some quick hitting stuff at them, gave us a chance to run some draws that we were able to hit them with. Also blowing up the field gave us a chance to kick out the end and get underneath on the stretch play.
When it became a passing game, it gave us a better opportunity to run the football.
Q. Is this a running league do you think? Florida won all those games with Tebow throwing the ball
COACH PHILLIPS: I wouldn't say that, no. They ran the spread (offense), but they ran the ball. Tebow is known for running the football. So this is a league that, yeah, it's a physical league with the defenses you play, you'd better be able to run the ball efficiently. Auburn is doing it. These guys we're about to play, they're running the ball. South Carolina has improved. Why? Because I think they're running the ball more efficient than they have in the past.
Q. Why do you think that is? Why is it that this league other leagues, the Pac 10, the WAC, whatever, they throw the ball, but this league always seems to come back to
COACH PHILLIPS: To running the football. The type of athletes you're getting, also, I think that helps. In the WAC they're not getting the big, physical backs that we're getting in this league. They're getting a little smaller backs, which is making those guys have to do what they feel like is best for them to win games, which is throwing the football.
Q. What does La'Rod (King) bring to the table?
COACH PHILLIPS: A big third receiver. He's a guy that we all know the type of mismatches that Randall gives people, and Chris Matthews started playing really well for us. Now we're just opening up things for La'Rod. We ran a dig route with Randall and a post on our side with La'Rod, and they jumped Randall, and now we've got one on one on the outside with a big, tall, athletic receiver.
The second touchdown that he hurt his knee on, his size again, he's 6'4", so he's open. He was covered pretty well, but at 6'4", 6'5", he's got a chance to go up and take the football.
He didn't have to jump that much. He just shielded himself and got in good rebound position and made the play. He's athletic. He's probably a little bit more athletic than Chris, and he made a huge play for us two weeks ago on 3rd and 14 where he caught an underneath route and got up the field, lowered his shoulder and got us to 12, got us to a 4th and short. So La'Rod is playing really good for us, and we need him to get healthy. We need him to be that third option for us.
Q. Could he be a No. 1 guy down the road?
COACH PHILLIPS: Yeah, definitely. He's a young kid. He's only a sophomore. The other guy that's his age that we feel is still coming is Brian Adams. We think he and Brian Adams in time will be No. 1 receivers.
Q. Is Brian ready to give you something if La'Rod is limited?
COACH PHILLIPS: He'd better be, yeah. We expect that, because with Roark out, if La'Rod can't go, Brian is going to get a lot of reps this week. He is. We expect him to go out and make plays. He's been playing a little bit more each week with Matt being out, also. We'll have to give him a bigger role on special teams, also, with Matt being out.
Q. Are you at a point that maybe some of these younger guys on defense that are just kind of playing special teams, are any of them ready to play a full time role?
COACH PHILLIPS: They're backups for right now. Ridge Wilson will play a little bit more. We'll start Ridge Wilson at the Sam linebacker, give us a little bit more athleticism, a little bit more length. But the other guys, right now, they're still learning. Their roles are as special teams players for us.
Q. What really slowed Brian down once you got him to practice?
COACH PHILLIPS: Well, La'Rod King and Chris Matthews. Those guys are starting kept getting better and better every week, and Brian is still learning, there's no question about that. And he's going to be a really good player. It's just you have a hard time taking those guys off the field as good as they're playing right now. Those guys are playing pretty dang good for us.
And Brian has gotten some reps. Each week he's gotten more and more as guys get banged up, especially Randall. Randall gets banged up, you see him come off the field a little bit more, and that's giving Brian more plays. With La'Rod being banged up and with Matt being out, he's going to have to absorb even more of a role this week.
COACH PHILLIPS: Yeah, but football speed, I think Randall definitely might be the slowest on the clock but he's the fastest on the football field.
Q. Are the problems stopping the run more just youth at this point or size?
COACH PHILLIPS: I don't think it's size because I think our guys are holding their gaps. We've got some that their eyes start to float and they get out of their gaps, but when our guys hunker down, they're not getting pushed around out of the gaps. The thing we've got to do is keep our eyes in our gap. Your eyes can't float or you get into some gaps you're not supposed to be in.
It only takes one. It only takes one gap to be open and a guy jumps through it, and now you have a nine man front, he's in your secondary with guys having to just rally to the football just to try to get him down because there's not a defender back there.
Q. Do you switch goals now that the SEC East is out of your grasp?
COACH PHILLIPS: We want to get this program in the best available Bowl for us. That's our goal, try to get in the best available Bowl for us that's out there.
Q. Re: Donte Rumph
COACH PHILLIPS: We thought Rumph played well for us last week. He was one of those guys that held the point, got some push, so we'll give him a bigger role. We're playing a lot of guys inside, and we've got to give him more reps. He is young, but he's talented, and he's only going to learn if he's on the football field. He doesn't learn a lot when he's over on the sideline. He's only going to learn when he's on the field. So we've got to give him a little bit more reps because he was one of the guys that could hold the point for us last week.
Q. Is he in better shape?
COACH PHILLIPS: He is, he is. He's 300.8. He called me last week and told me that, and I thought that was 308 when he first said it. I said, "What's the big deal? You only lost five pounds." It's 300.8.
Q. Will we see the new Donte Rumph this week?
COACH PHILLIPS: I think you will. Donte Rumph didn't show up until August 5th when we reported. He was really out of shape, really bad out of shape, had no clue of the system, had no clue of how we did things. So I think you'll really get to see the true Donte Rumph once spring hits because he'll get a chance to go through the off season.
Mentally it's tough when you come in here and you're not in great shape and you've got guys that are in shape because the rest of our football team had been here this summer. I think that makes it tough for a guy who's got a lot of pride like he does and he can't push himself like the rest of the guys were.
Q. What was he when you got him, 300
COACH PHILLIPS: He was 316, 318 when we got him.
Q. When you say best available bowl, I know you guys are appreciative of the opportunities you've had the last four years, but is there a statement in there, hey, let's go to someplace maybe a little warmer?
COACH PHILLIPS: Just the best available, the best one if you win eight games. We don't always make those decisions, you know. Just the best one that's available if you win eight games, and we truly expect to win eight games.
Q. Are there any bad Bowls?
COACH PHILLIPS: No. You've got one you want to give us now at 4 and 4?
Q. How hard is it to let go of the goal that's been there since the spring?
COACH PHILLIPS: You've just got to adjust. Every week you've got to change your goals. My goal is to try to lose weight sometimes, too, and next week I'll try to lose one pound, and if I don't lose it I'll change it to a half a pound (laughter). If you don't reach it, you've got to change it.
Q. What are your thoughts of learning about your team? You said you learned they're fighters this year. But now they're four and four and you've got a chance to close out well and get to one of those bowls. Will you find out more about them from here to the end of the season?
COACH PHILLIPS: You know, I'd like to find out how good of starters we are. I'd like to see what type of starters. I like to see what type of football team we truly have, and I think we have a good football team. I like to see truly what type of team we have by seeing this team play 60 minutes, and we have not played 60 minutes on all three phases. We've played good on offense at times, and that's when we haven't played good on defense and vice versa, and then special teams will show up in there. I'd like to see this team play 60 minutes.
They, the players, will see what type of team that we truly have because we think we've got a really good football team.
Q. On the fumbles, are you keeping the ball security in their minds or do you not talk about it?
COACH PHILLIPS: No, we've got to talk about it. I want to talk about it. La'Rod King's was an effort. Everybody saw that one. That guy is battling his tail off. He's got two hands on the ball, a guy comes in and puts his hat right on it. We've got to stress it. You've got to take care of the football. We've got to.
I gave those guys the stats yesterday. The difference between winning and losing is us turning the football over. You've got ten in the four games that was lost and none in the four games that we won. I think that hits home when you say those type of things to our players.
Kentucky Player Quotes
#94 Taylor Wyndham, So., DE
On the Mississippi State game last year vs. this year ...
“It is pretty much the same stuff. They do a lot of pulling the guards and things like that. They are a good rushing team, second in the SEC. They are definitely going to try to run the ball. I’m pretty sure they are going to try to run the ball as much as possible.”
On looking back at the Georgia game …
“We try not to focus on the past. We try to focus on the task in hand. They are a new team this year with a really good rushing attack.”
On this team’s lack of quit in them ...
“It’s not the size of the men; it is the size of the fight in all of the men. We are trying to get better each and every day.”
# 66 Chandler Burden, Jr., OT
On the UGA game as a whole ...
“It was tough. It was more me one-on-one than anything else. They played a very good 4-3 defense. It’s tough because if you win 41 out of 43 pass rushes, that is not good enough because you missed two pass rushes.”
On how he evaluated his own play so far ...
“I feel like I’m still learning. I feel as if I am getting better each and every day even though I think I’m doing pretty well now, I still don’t think I’m at the level I can achieve.”
#5 Mike Hartline, Sr., QB
On the SEC overall ...
“Obviously it’s a little mixed around, especially in the East division. Everyone is playing so well. It’s all so balanced. Over in the West, everyone is also playing so well and they all have such good records. It fluxuates with both sides.”
On Mississippi State and what to expect ...
“To know it’s going to be a good team. We as a team have to know that Coach Mullen is going to have his team ready to play. They have been playing well over the last two years, and he has turned around that program. They have an outstanding running game, and their defense is playing strong.”