Joker Phillips Weekly Press Conference Coverage

Nov. 14, 2011

Head Coach Joker Phillips

COACH PHILLIPS: The injury report. Winston Guy has tweaked his shoulder. He will not practice on Tuesday. Be probable for the game.

(Martavius) Neloms had x-rays on his ankle. Was negative. Right now he has a high ankle sprain. He's doubtful.

Cartier Rice pulled his oblique. He's probable also.

(Donte) Rumph looked good today running around in the training room.

(Mister) Cobble was limited in the second half with his surgical-side shoulder, it flared up.

Got a huge challenge going to Georgia. Another hostile environment on the road with a team that's probably one of the hottest teams in the country. (They) Also have a chance to win the East. We have to get ourselves mentally and physically prepared.

Physically we've got to get some guys healed up for another opportunity to play on the road.


Q. Re: thoughts on the game film from Vanderbilt.

COACH PHILLIPS: Well, wasn't much good. But there were some good things that happened. It was a team that the effort was there, definitely was there. When you lose a game like the way we lost, you'll sometimes hear people say, ‘The team quit, the team didn't play inspired, they weren't prepared,’ those type of things.

But I know there was a huge boxing match this week, correct? I guarantee the guy that lost was inspired, he played with effort. That's what we saw with this football team. They did play with some effort. We just didn't make enough plays.

Q. re: quarterback sacks

COACH PHILLIPS: They just got on the edge of our blockers. We gave them four sacks. A couple of times we didn't get the ball out of our hands. A couple times we didn't direct the protection. But our line did a good job of holding up. I think they had one missed assignment on one of their pressures that they got a sack.

But we've got to get the ball out of our hands. We've got to throw and catch it a little bit better. Got to make plays once the ball is out of the quarterback's hands.

Q. How is the running game?

COACH PHILLIPS: I thought we ran the ball efficient on first down. We would just get behind after the first down. We'd get ahead of the count. Second down we would have maybe a second-and-short and they would stack 'em up and we couldn't make it. On third downs, after going second-and-short, get a penalty, now it's third-and-long. You got to get away from your run game. Now here comes all the pressure, here comes all the heat they apply to you.

But I thought we ran the ball efficiently, especially on first down. The thing that (happened was) we got down so, we had to get away from our game plan of running the ball.

Q. re: was anything new discovered on Morgan Newton’s second opinion?

COACH PHILLIPS: No, it was exactly what our doctors had diagnosed. He was fine with what our doctors and what his doctors said. He's a lot better this week with both his ankle and his shoulder. Again, he's still there for emergency.

Q. re: how “X” plays are defined.

COACH PHILLIPS: Yeah, we try to put yardage on it. We try to put it on the run, 15 yards, and the pass 25 yards.

If you look at last year, last few years, we've had a lot of big plays. We have not had as many big plays this year, many X plays. Can only think of a couple last week. Meanwhile, we gave up more than a couple. You can't do that and win, especially when you're trying to play field position and those type of things.

We actually kicked them down to the seven-yard line one time. We give up a huge play. Now we've lost field position. We get them on third down on that same series. They throw a screen for another X play. We're not throwing any X plays and we're not making any X plays also.

Q. re: play-making ability not the same without Cobb, Matthews, Locke, etc.

COACH PHILLIPS: Well, we don't definitely have the speed that we had the last couple years to stretch the field. But we have gotten behind people, too. You don't have to have great speed to get behind people. We have made some plays down the field.

But the thing that we are lacking is a guy to throw screen to, a five-yard play to, and he turns it into a 50-yard play. That's what we're lacking.

Our screen game has been big for us over the years. That's an easy throw for a young quarterback. It's an easy throw for an old quarterback. But it's a play that gives the team confidence when you can throw a screen, which is behind the line of scrimmage, for a player and he can turn it into a 40-, 50-yard play and we don't just have that ability right now.

Q. re: young players who are developing into playmakers

COACH PHILLIPS: We think Demarco Robinson can be one of those guys. We think Daryl Collins can be one of those guys. We already saw it out of Josh Clemons, who we threw a screen to in the Louisville game. Turned out to be a 40-, 50-yard play. We've also seen him go 70 yards. We think we have some of those type of guys in our program.

They don't always grow up as fast as we would like. They're on their own pace. That's just the way this business works.

Q. re: thoughts on Georgia

COACH PHILLIPS: What impressed me with the way Georgia plays, first of all you look at them physically. It's one of the biggest teams that we've played up front especially. They go 360 (pounds), 360 in the backup with the nose guard. Their defensive ends, their three-man front, their defensive ends are about 305, which is the position that Rumph plays. Their other side is about 305, then they have some lean, fast guys on the end with Jarvis Jones and they have (Alec) Ogletree.

They create some double-teams inside with the big guys, meanwhile they're freeing up some one-on-one matchups on the outside with the tackles, with the speed guys.

They're playing really good defense. They're all over the place with their blitzes, with their pressures. They've got some big guys inside that can hold the point and stop the run.

Then offensively they're running the football. I was watching a little bit of them as we were coming back from Vandy on the bus. I know there was one thing that flashed up. They ran the ball 11 straight times in a drive and scored on it. 11 straight times. When you can do that, it's controlling the clock, controlling the line of scrimmage, it's keeping your defense fresh.

Q. re: how much did the team miss Donte Rumph in the Vanderbilt game

COACH PHILLIPS: A lot. Donte, he's been a force inside, and we didn't have Cobble healthy either. Luke McDermott is a third-down pass-rush specialist, about 265 pounds. When you're playing teams that like to run downhill, like we were playing Saturday, you need some beef in there. Christian Coleman is a young guy. About every other play he looks like an SEC defensive linemen, no question about that. But then there's a couple times up front you can't get high. If you get high, you get exposed. It happened to him a couple times. But he’s going to be a really good player for us. But we also missed Rumph in there.

Q. re: if he has gotten good luck wishes from South Carolina Coach Steve Spurrier.

COACH PHILLIPS: No, no (laughter). You don't ever hear from him after (the teams play). He's got other things to focus on. I'm sure he's rooting for us this week, though. Although I did get a text from somebody from South Carolina. I don't know who it was. 803 number. I guess that's South Carolina. Dinner anywhere in the world if we beat Georgia, so yeah, got to start picking out some places for me (laughter).

Q. re: young players performance

COACH PHILLIPS: We had a couple young guys that showed up. Bud Dupree showed up. We missed a little bit with Ridge (Wilson), especially on the downhill plays that they run right at you. The things they run when we send blitzes and those things, Bud held up well. Had a huge sack for us. Another young guy that had a huge sack for us was the (Eric) Dixon kid. Two true freshmen playing on defense. Actually it was a time we had four true freshmen playing on defense, Ashely Lowery, Coleman, then Bud and Dixon, and all of them were making plays. That's one of the positives of this game out of this week. But those two guys, especially Bud and Dixon, had some big plays. Even Coleman. Coleman had a big-time deflection, (and a) tackle for loss.

We're going to have to get more out of Bud. Ridge is still banged up. He should be okay this week, but we also got to limit the amount of reps that he gets.

Q. re: other young players who will contribute in the future

COACH PHILLIPS: Yeah. A few years ago there were a couple young guys, Wesley Woodyard, Keenan Burton, that we leaned on heavily to try to turn the program around. We felt like we have some really good players like Max Smith on offense, Darrian Miller, a young fullback who is a true freshman (DJ Warren). Feel like we got some really good young players. I just mentioned the guys on defense. There's some other guys on defense that's playing, as well.

There's some really good young players in this program that have a chance to be great players in this program. They look like SEC players from their position.

Q. (No microphone.)

COACH PHILLIPS: That's the thing we've been able to recruit, is guys that are winners. They're not used to losing. We aren't around here either in the last five, six years. It's got to be especially tough for the young guys. The old guys, too.

One thing that everybody needs to understand is the struggle it took to get to five straight bowl games. It was a struggle, there's no doubt about it. We got to get our kids to understand how tough that struggle was.

Q. re: redshirted players who can help in 2012

COACH PHILLIPS: A couple offensive linemen. The (Zach) West kid from here locally, got a chance to be a good player for us. (He’s) Practicing (with) the twos. That's quality reps he's getting against some good opponents, some good competition. A lot of times our twos go against our ones. He's seen some good inside defensive linemen. Daryl Collins is out, so he isn't getting a lot of work. Two inside linebackers got a chance to be real good players. (They) Have put on some pounds. Defensive end, (Farrington) Huguenin, now up to about 265, 270. When I came in, he was about 225.

We have some good young players in this program. The thing we're interested in, like everybody else, is winning right now. That's the way we're preparing.

Q. re: playing in the SEC

COACH PHILLIPS: Tough league, no doubt about that. But we've proven it before. We've been in some really close games before. We can compete in this league. We're not where we used to be the last couple years, but we're striving to get back to that level. Still some things out there (this year). I'm sure the people that you're around would probably say different. But we as coaches, we as players, we're competitors, and we say there are still some things out there left for us to play for.

Thank you, guys.

#52 Billy Joe Murphy, OT

On what he saw after watching the game film …
“We just weren’t playing very consistent. We would have a play here and then we would shoot ourselves in the foot with penalties. That game is behind us now. We watched that game yesterday and put that behind us. We start preparing for Georgia today.”

On what he has seen watching film of Georgia …
“They are very big, strong, athletic and fast just like every defense in the SEC. Georgia is a really good football team and they are playing good football right now. I watched them on the way back from Vanderbilt play Auburn and then watched some more on them today. They are really good. They will throw a lot of different schemes at us and we have to be prepared.”

On what Georgia does well …
“They play hard. It seems that they play hard every snap. They have a great combination of size and speed and we are going to have handle that. We haven’t seen many 3-4s. There aren’t many teams in the SEC that run a 3-4. Jacksonville State ran a 3-4, but it is not the same caliber players as Georgia. The scheme may be close to the same but we will get into that today and tomorrow and get into film on that.”

#40 Avery Williamson, LB
On the mood of the team …
“We just have to keep moving forward and try to get better as a team. We can’t keep worrying about the past. We have to keep moving on and try to get better.”

On the difficulty of facing Georgia …
“Georgia is trying to win the SEC East, and try to win a National Championship possibly. We are going to have to play very hard to win this game because (Georgia) is going to be out to get us.”

#42 Nick Melillo, TE

On the Vanderbilt game …
“We made some mistakes offensively. Coaches had a great game plan. There were no blitzes that we hadn’t seen, but we didn’t make plays. When you get behind that early that big, it gets hard to run the football. Early on, we were having success running the football, we just couldn’t convert those third-and-mediums to keep the drive alive.”

On playing Georgia …
“(Georgia) is a great football team. Not only are we playing to get to a bowl game, but they are playing to win the SEC East. They want a shot at Alabama or LSU. It’s a big game for them and for us.”