Wildcats Conclude Physical Preparation, Continue Mental Prep

Oct. 27, 2011

LEXINGTON, Ky. – University of Kentucky football head coach Joker Phillips said after practice Thursday that his team’s physical preparation for the game against Mississippi State is over, but the mental preparation will continue until gametime.

Phillips said his team is ready to go physically. Now, the players must take care of their bodies and stay off their feet as they continue to prepare for the game mentally.

“The physical preparation is over with and now it is all about getting our minds right and making sure we are taking care of our bodies and staying off our feet,” Phillips said. “They (the players) have a lot of time between now and game time and that is something that we have stressed to them. It is all about executing and that comes from knowing what to do. All of that is mental.”

Phillips said one of the things that pleased him most from the 38-14 win against Jacksonville State last weekend was how the Wildcats played their responsibilities well on the defensive side of the ball, something the head coach hopes will continue this week against Mississippi State.
“One thing we did against Jacksonville State is that our guys played their responsibilities,” Phillips said. “You didn’t see a lot of the option stuff after the second quarter because we had played it so well. That is the thing that you have to do, you have to take care of your business and not worry about someone else’s business.”

Field position figures to play a key role in the game for the Wildcats. With the exception of the kickoff return for a touchdown last week by Jacksonville State, Kentucky has ranked high in the nation in kickoff coverage and currently ranks seventh in the nation in net punting. Phillips said UK needs to continue to pin its opponents deep in their own territory, while eliminating big-yardage plays.

“We have to play field position,” Phillips said. “We have to get a couple of first downs and continue to move the chains and see if we can hit a couple of big plays. If we have to, then punt the ball and keep them back because we have one of the best punters at doing that in the country. On the other side, we can’t give up big plays because that is when teams have been able to score on us from the other side of the 50-yard line.”

In terms of injuries, Phillips said sophomore tailback Raymond Sanders is no longer in a boot, but will not play on Saturday, while true freshman fullback D.J. Warren did not go through contact Thursday but is expected to be ready to go for Saturday. Redshirt freshman running back Brandon Gainer did not practice Thursday because of illness while true freshman defensive back and return man Daylen Hall is out for the game.

Junior defensive end Collins Ukwu, who is returning for an injury, continued to impress Phillips in practice on Thursday and will receive the start at defensive end for the first time since the Louisville game.

“Ukwu looks really, really good and he will start,” Phillips said. “I think I told you guys earlier that Mike Douglas would start because we were trying to protect Ukwu, but now I think that he is ready.”

Reminders to Fans – Saturday is “Blackout Game”: Saturday’s game has been declared a “Blackout Game.”  The Wildcats will wear black uniforms and fans are encouraged to wear black as well.

Reminder to Fans – As Per City Ordinance, Masks Are Not Allowed: With Halloween approaching, fans are reminded that, as per Lexington city ordinance, masks may not be worn in public.  Therefore, fans may not enter Commonwealth Stadium with masks or wear masks on game day.  Also, for safety and security purposes, costume props will not be permitted inside the stadium on game day.

Reminders to Fans – Cat Walk at 4:45: Fans wishing to participate in the “Cat Walk,” cheering the Wildcats when they enter Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday, should be at Gate One of the stadium at 4:45 p.m.