March 28, 2011
LEXINGTON, Ky. – For the final time this spring, the University of Kentucky football team held a shorts-and-helmets only practice at the Nutter Field House on Monday morning, with head coach Joker Phillips pleased with his team’s focus and concentration.
On Saturday, Phillips was not pleased with his team’s efficiency. However the second-year head coach was much happier Monday after practice, saying that he felt the cold temperatures and high winds probably influenced the Wildcats’ concentration Saturday.
“The weather might have been a little bit of a factor on Saturday because today our concentration was a little bit better,” Phillips said. “I think a lot of it had to with not thinking about the cold and all of that stuff. I thought that we threw the ball a little bit better. We didn’t catch it as well, but we did hang on to it when we did have it. The focus and concentration was a little bit better.”
Defensively, Phillips said it is still hard to determine the improvements that have been made because the team is still installing new things and learning. The head coach did say that he is hoping the team will start to play faster.
“We are still installing on defense and those guys are still learning over there,” Phillips said. “They are not playing as fast as we want them to play, but they will get that in time.”
One improvement that has been made on the defensive side that Phillips is pleased with is the change of playing senior safety Winston Guy closer to the line of scrimmage and junior Martavius Neloms from cornerback to safety.
“Definitely,” Phillips said about the move of Guy to linebacker and Neloms to safety and it if benefited both players. “Winston was a guy that in high school was blitzing off the edge and played in the gaps a lot, while Neloms is athletic enough to play over the top. Neloms has a little bit better instinct in breaking on the ball and being a middle-of-the-field or half-field safety. And Winston has a better feel than Neloms being in the box. Last year, it was opposite. We are just flip-flopping those guys and it will help us as a football team.”
Before and after practice, players and coaches were talking about the Kentucky men’s basketball team’s victory that punched the Wildcats’ ticket to the Final Four. Phillips wished the Wildcats the best of luck.
“I was posted up watching the game back home,” Phillips said when asked what he did for the Kentucky-North Carolina basketball game Sunday. “Anytime that we get to see our university compete on a national level we are going to take time to do that.”
Spring practice continues Wednesday morning when the Wildcats host the fifth of seven open practices this spring. The first seven practices are open to the media and the general public. Kentucky is set to take the field around 9 a.m. ET time at the Nutter Training Facility, however practice may be moved indoors to the Nutter Field House if bad weather moves into the Lexington area.