Aug. 19, 2011
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The University of Kentucky football team moved indoors to practice with the threat of rain in the Lexington area Friday with head coach Joker Phillips very pleased with his team’s effort and focus in its final day of practice before the team scrimmages on Saturday.
Phillips said he entered Friday’s practice concerned that some players might not compete at full speed with a scrimmage looming the next day. However, the second-year head coach was happy with his team’s performance and focus.
“It was a really good practice,” Phillips said. “We only went two hours today to try to get ready for the scrimmage. Again, the scrimmage is a huge interview for a bunch of young guys and some guys that have been around here for a long time. I thought that we would see some guys trying to just get themselves to the scrimmage today, but there are guys out here trying to get themselves better and I appreciate that.”
Phillips has consistently referred to fall scrimmages as “job interviews” and Saturday’s scrimmage is no different. In fact, Phillips said it could be the last audition because starting Sunday all focus turns to the Western Kentucky University Hilltoppers and UK’s season opener on Sept. 1.
“We have to go,” Phillips said when asked if Saturday’s scrimmage could be the last audition for some players. “Tomorrow will be our last scrimmage against each other and then we have to scrimmage against Western Kentucky (formations and plays) after tomorrow. That means that we have to start scaling down who we are working with. Tomorrow is a huge day for a lot of people on this football team.”
Much of the talk at fall camp has centered on Kentucky’s talented group of freshmen. Phillips has been pleased so far with the group’s level of play and insisted after practice Friday that several newcomers could have a strong impact on the UK team come Sept. 1.
“I have heard this from a lot of old coaches that I have been around: In three games, talent will overtake experience,” Phillips said. “So we will have to play them (the freshmen). That is the only way we are going to know. There are going to be some guys that are playing two or three games and who knows --there might be a couple of freshman starters.”
In terms of injuries, Phillips said overall the team is holding up well, although the wide receivers are starting to feel the effects of the fast-paced style of play.
“We don’t have a lot of wide receivers in camp and we are running at a fast pace, getting a lot of reps in,” Phillips said. “Some of the wide receivers are starting to get some dead legs. Gene McCaskill is one of those guys that we are going with (practicing) every other day. We are trying to get him to the game. He is a guy that has done it for us.”