UK Football Media Day Wrap-Up
More to come ...
Behind the scenes at media day
Head coach Joker Phillips
COACH Joker Phillips: Well, we are happy to be back for year two of our boot camp, which starts tomorrow. One of the reasons why we're so happy is we haven't seen or had a chance to work with this team since April, and we all know a lot of guys can improve from April to August in their strength and conditioning and their techniques and their fundamentals, and also in our schemes.
COACH PHILLIPS: We've got a lot of new schemes, especially on defense, that our guys have been studying, so a lot of the guys can improve from the last time we worked with them which was at the end of April until now.
With that, once you start to improve in strength and conditioning, start to improve in your techniques and start to improve in understanding our schemes, you start having a little bit different sense of yourself, start getting a little bit more confident, you start to get a little bit more comfortable with the schemes, which allows you to play faster, which allows you to make plays, which allows you once you make plays to get even more confidence, which then you play a little bit more faster.
So we're excited about getting this football team, especially with the reports that we've heard from our strength and conditioning staff, Rock Oliver and his staff. All they've said is our kids have done an unbelievable job. We've put on some mass that was much needed. We didn't run as much this off season. We'll condition a little bit more during training camp, so we're excited about getting this football team back together.
A couple signees, Bubba Tandy and David Washington, will go to junior college. You guys already know that. Nile Daniel continues to work through some academics, and we feel comfortable and confident that that should get done. We'll know here in the next four or five days. The Paschal kid is with us, also. We didn't have to sign him; he enrolled, got admitted last week, and he's with us today and will go through training camp. He will also have to sit out this year. He'll have to sit out this year and will have three years after this.
And Daylen Hall is with us. You guys have talked about Daylen Hall. We really feel comfortable with what we have seen in Daylen Hall, a guy who has done nothing but great things here this summer in taking care of his business in the classroom and on the football field, so we're happy with that.
Our freshmen will not be available for interviews. I think one of the things that we feel comfortable with is holding those guys so that they've got a lot on their plate, and we just think that it's good for those guys to concentrate and we're going to be counting on a lot of the freshmen, so we'll allow you guys to talk to the guys today, but then we won't allow you to talk to them until they play, and I think that's fair. I think that's fair, it's fair to the teammates. Once they start contributing then you guys can talk to them. They'll be free game. You guys can have them.
Injury report, Donte Rumph will be on hold, we'll hold him. He had a concussion, a minor accident last week. It was a fender bender, but he also bumped his head and he'll be out for a couple days, and we'll continue to hold him and monitor him. Limited will be Jake Lanefski, PC Cobble, Gene McCaskill, James Elliott and Raymond Sanders. Those guys will be limited. We'll follow those guys day to day. Gene will probably be a guy that goes every other day until we feel comfortable with him going full speed.
Q. How comfortable are you that the defense really understands the schemes?
COACH PHILLIPS: You know, I'll be more comfortable once we see them. I mean, it's easy for those guys to say they understand it, but we need to see some results. They did get their 15, 16 practices that we did prep in some of the system. He didn't come in and implement a lot of it, but they started getting some of the wording, which I think that helps, and then they got 15 practices during the spring. They got a chance to watch film all summer with voiceovers, so they got to hear from Rick. A lot of them didn't like that, but I'm sure it definitely will help. And then we'll get 29 practices now. So we will know a little bit better once we get closer to the game.
Q. You should feel real good about this offensive line.
COACH PHILLIPS: Offensive line, yes. We've been saying for a couple years that the strength of this football team offensively will be our offensive line, and well, I'm now happy and proud to say that they should be the strength of the program on offense. We've got four out of the five back, working really, really good together, communicate. They did a lot of things this summer on their own and getting themselves prepared.
Stuart Hines has been the leader up front along with the other seniors, Jake Lanefski and Billy Joe Murphy. Larry Warford is a guy that will be one of the best that's ever played here before he finishes. So we feel really good about how far those guys have come. Coach Summers does an unbelievable job of making sure that those guys are together.
I didn't mention Chandler Burden. Chandler Burden is a guy that goes from defense to offense, and those guys immediately bring him into the group and make him feel comfortable over there. So we feel really good about that.
We've got to develop some depth up front now. A couple years ago we had a lot of seniors, but we played a lot of underclassmen behind them. We've played Stuart Hines, we've played Billy Joe Murphy, we played Larry Warford. Matt Smith got a lot of snaps. He played more snaps than anybody last year. We don't feel comfortable in changing our centers as much as we do the rest of the group, but we've got to try to develop some depth.
Teven Eatmon is a guy that needs to help us; Jake Lanefski; really like what we see, have seen in Kevin Mitchell. Kevin Mitchell has done a great job in changing his body. He's lost weight now, built his body back up, gained a lot of strength, and with that comes confidence. And with confidence they start to play a little bit faster.
So we're excited about that. We're excited about that whole group. We think that whole group can it helps when that group has experience, has some leadership amongst the group when you lose the type of production that we've lost. I think that's really a key. When you lose the production we lost in the skill positions, it really helps when you've got the experience of the offensive line.
Q. Do you think you'll play more freshmen?
COACH PHILLIPS: I think we will play more freshmen than we have in the past, especially at the skill positions, and I just think that those guys just need to be focused on football, getting themselves ready, and then you guys will see them in the first game. You'll see a bunch of them, then they're yours. Even the tight ends, they'll be yours.
You always ask about the tight ends. There's a tight end from Georgia, he's a guy that we think can come in here and play this year, and after the first game, you'll have him.
Q. Talk about some of your freshmen wide receivers and which ones you think will get playing time.
COACH PHILLIPS: Well, we've got to take a look at all of them. We signed five of them. We went out and got five because we needed five, and that was a selling tool. If we were going out to recruit one, we don't need wide receivers. Hey, we need wide receivers. Should not be a negative if someone is recruiting five, we're only going to take five if we need them, and we feel like we needed five wide receivers.
A couple bodies are big bodies that could possibly go somewhere else, a couple of little guys could possibly go somewhere else, also, so we've got to figure out which ones can help us at the wide receiver position. That is the reason why these freshmen will be at third team. They will not be buried in the depth chart. I think that's only fair to them. I think it's a negative when you bring a freshman that's been a star in his high school and you bring him into your program and he's buried in the depth chart.
I think it also helps the competition in spring. You've got to get to one or two. These freshmen will be third team when they start tomorrow.
Q. What's different about this wide receiver class from past ones?
COACH PHILLIPS: True receivers. You know, they've played the game at that position for a long time. If you remember the wide receivers when we signed five from Randall's class, none of them had played wide receiver. They played quarterback. I think that's a good thing, too, because usually coaches put their best athletes at the quarterback position. But the way high school teams are throwing the football now, you're starting to see some better athletes at the wide receiver position, so you're seeing some more development at that position.
I think we went out and were able to find guys that had played that position, caught a lot of balls, and I think that's important. So now, understand the position, how to line up in a stance, in their mind they've got an idea how to defeat press conference, got an idea of how to read coverages on the run, and now we've got to teach them plays. Before we had to teach those five that came in, we had to teach them everything. Randall Cobb was not very good when I got him. Just kidding. (Laughter.)
Q. Have you ever had to replace a guy that did that much (as Randall Cobb did)?
COACH PHILLIPS: No, I don't know if anybody has had to replace a guy that did as much as Randall Cobb did for us. He did both returns, he was a holder, played some quarterback, played some wildcat, actually started there five, six games at the quarterback position, received. I mean, he did everything for us. He was one of the best leaders I've ever been around. I have not been around a guy that did as much as he did.
Q. Comment on the special teams.
COACH PHILLIPS: Yeah, I feel really comfortable with our kickers and our kicker/punter, kickoff guy. I think Joe (Mansour) will be better at kicking off. Our snapper hasn't been in a game, but I feel comfortable with him.
But the thing that we have to do, and we've talked about the production that we lost, a lot of that production came from two guys. You say two guys at the wide receiver and running back position, and he also was our returner, so we've got to find out who our returners are. I think in recruiting and we're able to red shirt some guys that can run and kick and cover, run and cover, I feel really comfortable about our coverage teams.
If you look at our coverage teams last year, we had a bunch of wide receivers on our coverage teams. I mean, those guys aren't used to we've got some tough guys at wide receiver in Matt Roark and E.J. Fields and those guys, but we need our DBs and our linebackers to be guys that cover for us, and I think this year we'll have more DBs, linebacker, tight end type bodies that can go down and cover for us.
Q. About Raymond Sanders, how limited will he be, and when do you expect him to be up to full?
COACH PHILLIPS: We'll just watch him. He'll go to drill. He won't be in any contact. In his first two days he'll be in shorts, then two more days we'll be in shorts and shoulder pads, what we call shells, so there won't be any contact the first four days and we'll get to see how he is the first four days before we go into pads. I doubt he'll be ready to go into pad practice on the fifth day, but we'll get four days to find out.
Q. With him and some of the other running backs, how do you expect them to pick up the slack and what are their strengths?
COACH PHILLIPS: Well, that's another competition. We signed two really good backs, two freshman backs, that we think are going to come in here and help us, and again, we've got to see them, and they'll get reps, too. With Raymond (Sanders) being limited, that will give those guys a chance to get even more reps. But we think that Jonathan George had a great summer, one of the strongest guys on this football team pound for pound, and we feel good about him; CoShik (Williams) is another guy that's a real strong guy. Those two guys compete every day in the weight room, every day in the off season, so we've got some competition at the position of running back.
Q. Talk about Raymond Sanders.
COACH PHILLIPS: Raymond Sanders is one of the sharpest guys we've got on the football team as far as understanding the system. I can remember this time last year when he walked on campus, Locke was just blown away with his knowledge level and how much he knew of the position. He picked it up as fast as anybody I've ever been around, which gave him a chance to compete, which gave him a chance to play last year, and we're hoping that a couple of these young freshmen are the same, if they can pick it up as fast as he did.
And I think the problem is he wasn't out there and teaching these guys. He was rehabbing most of the summer. I hate that he wasn't out there, wasn't able to be out there to help these guys.
Q. Is the running back the easiest position to adjust to at the college level?
COACH PHILLIPS: Like you said, I think you can play as a true freshman at wide receiver and at running back. I think maybe the easiest position is the kicker position, but those two positions you've got a chance to play, too. Those guys, the two guys that we've got in here got great ability. Backs are not made; they're born. You know, it's hard to make great backs. You can make them tougher, you can make them stronger, but you can't make them have the vision and the balance that the great backs have.
Q. Can you comment on your offensive line?
COACH PHILLIPS: I think our offensive line will give us a chance to play some young guys at all positions, not just the running back position, but the wide receiver position, also.
Q. What sort of contribution do you think Cody Jones will make?
COACH PHILLIPS: Cody Jones, "Bullet Head" is what the guys call him. I was blown away when I saw the strength numbers, really strong kid, Coach (Steve) Pardue loved him. He's a guy that was competing in the spring for a position at fullback, and he's a guy that we brought back with the 105s, so he did a really good job of competing and getting himself in a position to play. So we're excited about him.
That position doesn't get a lot of snaps in our offense, but the snaps that they do get, they have to be a tough, physical guy.
Q. Is Glenn Faulkner ready to go?
COACH PHILLIPS: Yes, he is. Glenn (Faulkner) is probably a little bit further behind than the other guys because he just got here on campus, but talent wise, we always say that talent will overcome any experience any day. He's got to get experience and understand the systems on the run. We think he's a smart kid. He's been in the film room a couple days that he's been here trying to learn. Same thing when he came here for the spring game. He's a guy that really loves to play the game, so we're excited about him.
Q. As far as potential, is he about as good as you've seen?
COACH PHILLIPS: We think so, but it's hard to go off potential. We all talked about potential. Potential, and an old coach told me this, potential means he hasn't done it yet, and Faulkner has not done it yet, but we think he's a guy that can help us at that position. We need good play out of our safeties; moving Winston Guy closer to the ball opens up another position at safety, so we've got to have really good play out of our safeties.
Feel really comfortable with (Martavius) Neloms. We've got to feel a little bit more comfortable with the other guys.
Q. What is (Mark) Crawford's status?
COACH PHILLIPS: Well, (Mark) Crawford is still working to be a part of this football team. What do we expect of Crawford? We expect him to do what he's supposed to do all the time. He has done that for the most part, but he's still working his way to be a part of this football team.
It's day to day. I mean, it's day to day. We'll figure it out as we go. Trust isn't gained in a day. He's got time, and we'll give him time. We understand that young kids make mistakes, but we're giving him time. The guy has got a lot on his plate, but we're giving him time to figure this thing out.
Q. With all the new faces and question marks, do you think you're good enough to make a run?
COACH PHILLIPS: No doubt. We're not here to try to just compete for our sixth straight bowl game. You guys can say what you want about that. We're not. We came here, and we were able to track the coaches that we have, we've got great coaches on this staff, we were able to track those guys, and they came here to win, not just to go to a bowl game. We want to win championships here.
We've got some of those question marks answered in the spring. We've got a couple more everybody had questions in the spring. We get ours answered we'll get some more answered here in fall camp, in this boot camp, and we'll be ready to go to battle with whoever lines up in front of us.
Q. What does it say about Stuart Hines, given that he's an offensive lineman, to be seen as one of the faces of the program?
COACH PHILLIPS: Well, it says a lot about Stuart, and I got to know Stuart a little bit better. I recruited him and spent a lot of time with him and his family in the recruiting process but I got to know him a little bit better going away to Africa and watching him and watching him interact with people he didn't even know. I think that speaks volumes for a leader, how they interact with people they don't know, and he's definitely one of those leaders.
He is one of the faces of this program. The reason why we wanted him to be one of the faces of this program, he does everything right. He does everything right, academically, socially, football, and if he does make a mistake in football, he does everything he possibly can to try to get that corrected. We want a guy like Stuart Hines being the face of this program.
Q. What kind of impact did that trip have on him?
COACH PHILLIPS: Well, it had a huge impact on all of us. I think Mitch (Barnhart) will say the same. You can't go over there if you have any heart and it not have an impact on you. Stuart Hines has a huge heart, so it made a huge impact on him.
Q. Maxwell Smith, do you like his progression?
COACH PHILLIPS: I do. A couple things about Max that I don't like that's happened is he now has a mohawk and two earrings (laughter), so we've kind of screwed him up already. It happened here. We've screwed him up, us Kentuckians have screwed him up. He's doing well. There isn't a group on our football team that Max Smith does not hang with at some time in the day. He's the perfect quarterback. He'll go over and hang with the offensive linemen, he'll go over and hang out with the receivers. They love him. I think he's got a chance to be a great player because he has all the other things. I'm not talking about the arm, he has all those things, but he has all the other things that you look for in a leader; studies the game like nobody I've ever been around. So we're just excited about him, also.
Q. Could you talk about Rick (Minter)'s defensive scheme?
COACH PHILLIPS: Well, Rick is all ball, that's all he does. I was leaving to go to the dorm last night, and Rick is still there. He's a guy that all he does is football, and I think that's rubbing off on our players, studying the game, the attitude, the approach which they take with this game. Defensively, I think the attitude of our defense, the mindset, those things have definitely taken a turn for the better. Rick, all he talks about is turnovers and minus yardage plays and those things, and those are the things that we were looking for when we went out and got Rick, is for us to be successful at the level that we want to be successful, you've got to play dominant defense, not good, not great defense, you've got to play dominant defense.
If you look at the teams that are winning nine, 10, 11, 12 games in this league, that's what they do, they play dominant defense. We've been scoring points. We've got to play dominant defense, and that's the mindset that Rick has brought to this football team.
And it helps both sides. It helps both sides of the ball when you talk about playing dominant defense because our offense understands that the other team is probably talking about playing dominant defense, so we have to neutralize them.
Q. What makes dominant defense? Is it just skill?
COACH PHILLIPS: Well, a lot of it is attitude. It is attitude. We've got our top 11 tackles back from last year. It's a mindset. Our guys got to think takeaways, they've got to think scoring. Nobody says that you can't score on defense, and Rick tells the defense, there's more ways you can score on defense than there is on offense; takeaways, safeties, all kinds of ways you can score on defense. So our guys talk about scoring and minus yards and takeaways. Those are big things that you have to have if you're going to play dominant defense.
Q. What has to happen in order for them to play that way?
COACH PHILLIPS: Well, they first have to understand the schemes. We have to get lined up as fast as we possibly can, and usually every play is one on one. It's me against you, and they have to defeat somebody. You've got to win your individual battle, and we've got a chance to play dominant defense.
Q. How important is attitude in the offensive line?
COACH PHILLIPS: Big. Those are key, and like I say, we've got our top 11 tacklers back, got some depth behind those guys that played a lot of football, also, which helps. We've got some defensive linemen that have not played a lot around here that now should be in the mix. PC Cobble hasn't played. We've all been talking about him for two years. Now he's a part of those 11 guys who are our top 11 guys in tackling, so he's a part of it. (Donte) Rumph wasn't in that top 11. We feel good about him. He's a different player today than he was this time last year.
The linebackers, there's a couple linebackers I'm really excited about, a guy who looks like a young Danny Trevathan. It's hard to say that now, but I think he looks like one of those guys, (Malcolm) McDuffen. He's a guy that can run, that can hit and understands it. Doesn't understand it at the level that he needs to as those other guys, but we think he understands it enough.
Ridge Wilson is playing really good for us right now from the talks that we've heard. So we just feel good about this defense being able to play dominant defense.
Now, they've got to understand the schemes. Like I say, they have to they all have gotten stronger. We feel good about that. They've worked really hard on their techniques. Now we've got to find out how they are with the schemes, OK, which again, that will give them confidence, that will make them play faster, which makes plays, and it starts over again, getting more confident, feel more comfortable with the schemes, you make more plays.
Q. Talk about Ronnie Sneed.
COACH PHILLIPS: (Ronnie) Sneed has played a lot of football around here, and he's a guy that is probably ahead of most other guys in knowing this defense, so we expect him to get everybody lined up. He's a guy that understands as well as anybody on defense, so we expect him to be able to get everybody lined up early. The guy is a stand up guy, already graduated, so when Sneed talks, our guys listen because he does everything the right way. He's a married guy that has a family that's already graduated last year. He's been playing two years. This will be his second year of playing as a graduate. The guy is respected, and when Sneed talks, the guys listen. I think that's important, especially for your middle linebackers.
Q. (Tim) Patterson, is he 100 percent healthy now?
COACH PHILLIPS: We don't know for sure because we haven't seen him. From all of our reports he's been running well, got himself up to about 240, 245 (pounds). Tim Patterson might grow into a guy for Ridge Wilson's position. That's what we've been talking about, that he might become a rush end for us. He's a long guy, didn't get a lot of reps in the spring, but the reps he did get, Rick (Minter) was excited how much he knew, so with reps we'll know even more, which again, will give him a chance to play a little faster and with more confidence.
Q. You've got one year under your belt now as a head coach. Is there anything that you will approach a little differently than the first year?
COACH PHILLIPS: Well, I think as a head coach you've got to be hands on in every phase, every part of your program because you're responsible for it. I said last year, that the toughest part going from being an assistant to head coach is making those tough decisions and being held responsible for them. If I'm going to be held responsible for it, I'm going to have my hands in every phase, every part of this program.
I do delegate some things and am able to delegate even more this year, especially with the speaking obligations that we have. In year one I wanted to be the guy that was selling our plan, our vision, our brand. I'm talking about selling it to our players, our coaches, to our fans. I wanted to be that guy. And I think this year I feel comfortable in our coaches going out and selling that plan, which gives me more time, also, to have even a bigger hand in every phase of this program, every part of this program.
When people say do you feel more comfortable in year two? No doubt. I mean, that's what experience is. There's no substitute for experience, and I feel a year of experience has definitely helped.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
#16 La'Rod King, WR
On his thoughts on the team's mindset right now ...
On how good this team can be ...
On the offensive leaders being the offensive line ...
#67 Larry Warford, OG
On the depth of the offensive line ...
On what is keeping Kentucky from being "great" ...
What the little things are that need to be corrected before the season starts ...
#12 Morgan Newton, QB
On what he and his receivers worked on in the offseason ...
On if he is ready for the first game ...
#4, Raymond Sanders, TB
On Morgan Newton and his leadership role…
#46, Ronnie Sneed, LB
On the importance of creating turnovers…
On his leadership role and maturity he models amongst teammates…
On a championship for Kentucky…
On replacing Randall Cobb…
On Coach Rick Minter’s new defense…
On becoming mentally prepared for the season…
On who he wants to go after this year…
On his leadership role…