Young running backs shine in second scrimmage

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The University of Kentucky football team held its second scrimmage of fall camp Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium, giving head coach Joker Phillips several positives to take away, especially at the running back position.

“Those two young backs, (Brandon) Gainer and (Raymond) Sanders both did some really nice things,” Phillips said. “They made some really good runs and got most of the reps along with CoShik Williams. Those three guys did a really good job.”

Phillips said that all three, including returning starter Derrick Locke, got most the reps, but that Gainer and Sanders both had fumbles. The head coach said the freshman backs need to learn that the ball is “sacred” when they have it.

"The two young ones (Gainer and Sanders) put the ball on the ground, which we can’t have, but that will come with experience and a lot of up/downs with a ball in their hands,” Phillips said. “We cannot put the ball on the ground, that thing is sacred when they have it. They don’t understand that right now.”

Of course most of the talk after the scrimmage was about the battle at quarterback, although it appears that nothing will be decided until the coaching staff can review and dissect the tape for the scrimmage. However, Phillips said that all three are still doing good and bad things and continue to manage the game.

“Once they settled down, I thought that all of them did a good job – and I hate to say this – but in managing the game,” Phillips said. “We want a quarterback who can win the game now for us. We have to go figure out who gives us the best chance to win the game. Hopefully, we can go figure that out after watching the video. They all did some good things.”

Phillips did not name a starter or trim the quarterback race down to two, but did hint that a decision could be coming sooner rather than later.

“We might have,” Phillips said when asked if he expected to name a starter by Tuesday. “We have to go back and look at this film and it might shake its way out. We might decide that we have to go with someone and try to go with the guy who is most consistent.”

The first-year head coach continued to say that all three quarterbacks are doing good things, adding that freshman Ryan Mossakowski is becoming a “salesman in the huddle” and Morgan Newton is “doing some good things in the running game.”

Phillips raised eyebrows after the scrimmage, saying that safety Mychal Bailey, the junior college transfer, looks like the “fastest guy on the field.”

“If I am them (UK's injured defensive backs) and I see No. 41 (Mychal Bailey) running around - because he looks like the fastest guy on the field on either side - then I would be getting myself back in,” Phillips said. “He does a really good job of coming up and tackling. Like I have said 1,000 times, the difference between a good and a great defense is the tackling of the safety. He gives you a chance to be a great defense if he continues to come up and tackle the way he has been tackling.”

Besides the higher-profile position battles, such as quarterback, Phillips said the best competition right now for playing time is happening at center between sophomore Matt Smith and junior Jake Lanefski.

“They both are competing,” Phillips said. “Everyone stays on the quarterback but that (the center position) is probably the best and tightest competition. Matt has been really consistent and Jake brings that toughness and nastiness that you want up front and want it to spread throughout the entire unit.”

The Wildcats will hit the practice field again Sunday afternoon and will hold a mid-week scrimmage at some point this week.

Fans Encouraged to Donate Blood in “Battle of the Bluegrass”: The Battle of the Bluegrass isn’t just played on the football field. It’s a blood battle between the Cats and the Cards, too.

Kentucky Blood Center’s annual Battle of the Bluegrass runs Aug. 23 through Sept. 3. Blood donors can give blood and vote for their favorite team – the UK Wildcats or the U of L Cardinals.

All donors will receive a Battle of the Bluegrass T-shirt and are automatically eligible to win these great prizes:

• Donors who give blood Aug. 23 through Aug. 28 will be eligible to win two tickets to the Kentucky vs. Louisville game in Louisville on Sept. 4.
• Those who give Aug. 29 through Sept. 3 will be entered into a drawing to win a 46” Sanyo flat-screen TV.
• Everyone who registers to donate Aug. 23 through Aug. 31 is automatically entered to win a $5,000 AAA travel package. The vacation details are up to the winner.

“We are urging donors to give blood during the Battle of the Bluegrass for two reasons. It’s a great way to show your team spirit and support the Cats, but it’s also a way to assure there is enough blood available when the large number of visitors come to Kentucky next month for the World Equestrian Games,” said Kentucky Blood Center President and CEO William Reed. “It is prudent for us to have higher than normal blood supplies available during WEG. Battle of the Bluegrass is one way for us to be prepared.”

All Kentucky Blood Center donor centers and blood drives are participating. To find a convenient donation location or to schedule a donation, visit or call 800.775.2522.