Joker says he's ready after final practice

The University of Kentucky football team hit the practice field Thursday for the final time before heading 75 miles west to face in-state rival Louisville on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET.

First-year head coach Joker Phillips held what he termed a “mini game” at practice Thursday to get his team prepared mentally for the game. Phillips said that the mental practice started slow on both sides of the ball but he really liked the way the team finished strong, especially the special teams portion.

“I thought that our special teams did a good job of getting everyone on and off the field,” Phillips said. “We put a huge emphasis on making sure we have enough guys on the field. So many times I have seen teams come out, especially early in the season and don’t have enough guys on the field and we don’t want that.”

Phillips said the system of getting players on and off the field is a little different then years past, starting with naming things differently.

“We are calling special forces (special teams) a little bit different names to give everything a little different identity and I think the guys are in tune to it,” Phillips said. “They are getting themselves on and off the field a little bit faster.”

The UK head man told reporters after practice Thursday that he feels his team is well prepared both mentally and physical and expects the players to be ready at game time. As for himself, Phillips said he is ready and excited as well.

“I am (ready),” Phillips said. “I am ready. I am excited and ready to go. It seems like it has been forever but it has only been about eight months.

“I remember (it seemed that) a couple of days ago it was eight days (from the game) and now it is two days, the day before the day before. You know what that is, Thursday,” Phillips said, drawing laughter from the media in attendance.