LEXINGTON, Ky. – The University of Kentucky football team completed its first two-a-day practice schedule of fall camp on Thursday with a run-heavy practice in the morning, followed by a pass-heavy practice in the afternoon, according to head coach Joker Phillips.
“Two-a-day today, we went old school,” Phillips said after practice. “This morning was more of a run emphasis and we went full pads, while this afternoon we were more pass emphasis. We had some good competition on offense and defense and good work with our special teams. We have changed how we are working our special teams. We are getting the best on one side against the best of the rest on the other side. So our special teams are a lot more competitive too.”
In years past, Phillips has looked for his team to show the same amount of energy in the afternoon practice that they normally show in the morning practice. On Thursday, Phillips was pleased with the energy level in both practices, partly due to the team having to move inside for the afternoon practice after heavy storms rolled into the Lexington area. Phillips believed that the second practice being indoors helped give the players more energy as compared to practicing outside in the heat.
Much of the talk after practice was centered on the pass catchers for the Wildcats, including tight end Ronnie Shields and wide receiver Demarco Robinson. Phillips praised Shields’ play so far this fall, considering what has been asked of him.
“We are asking our tight ends to do a lot, especially Ronnie Shields because he is the guy we are asking to move all over the place,” Phillips said. “They (tight ends) ought to be able to do that because they have been around here for a long time. A lot of guys in that group have been starters or played a lot of football around here.”
Saturday will see the Wildcats have their first scrimmage and Phillips said he is looking forward to seeing Robinson's performance.
“Again, every time we have been in the stadium (during spring practice) he (Robinson) has made a play and I hope that continues,” Phillips said. “We need him. He has been a big-play guy for us. Again, it is so hard to drive the ball the length of the field and you have to have some big plays in your repertoire, therefore he has to be one of the guys that can help us.”
Phillips continued on Robinson, saying that his maturity off the field has helped his game on the field, including earning a 4.0 GPA this summer.
“He made a 4.0 (GPA) this summer and I didn’t get a chance to announce that to the team but that is a huge step for a guy that came in here last year and didn’t always understand how to do things the ‘Wildcat Way’ which is doing the right thing all the time,” Phillips said. “He did the right thing some of the time, but he is now starting to understand how to do the right thing all the time. It starts over there in the classroom and across campus. That is what we preach. We are trying to make sure these guys are well-rounded men when they leave here. You have to be able to do it all the time.”
Other than Robinson, Phillips said he continues to be impressed with the freshmen wide receivers DeMarcus Sweat and A.J. Legree, saying they get “angry” when the ball is in the air.
“A couple of those young guys, when those balls are in the air they are angry guys and that is what you have to be,” Phillips said. “That is what we have had around here is guys that when the ball is in the air they are angry and it is theirs. Those two guys that have athletic ability and they attack the football. I am looking forward to see how they perform and take it from the practice field to the stadium. That is important.”
Kentucky will have its final tune-up before the first scrimmage of the fall camp on Friday.