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Joker evaluates scrimmage, calls for better tackling

Joker Phillips Evaluates Saturday Scrimmage: Following Monday morning’s practice, Coach Joker Phillips gave an update on his impressions of the scrimmage held Saturday.

“I really think that the receivers are doing a great job catching the ball and making plays for us,” Phillips said. “The quarterbacks threw the ball a lot better Saturday but we have to get better protecting the quarterback. We just have to tackle on defense, which cost us getting ourselves getting off the field a few times.”

Kentucky will have a less experienced defense in 2010 after the departure of five veteran starters from last season, four of whom earned All-Southeastern Conference honors. One of the priorities of the spring is to develop new leadership on defense, which the coach indicated is an on-going process.

“I really like (defensive tackle) Mark Crawford,” Phillips said. “He is one of the guys every day that is stepping up as a leadership role. At linebacker I think Qua Huzzie is starting to become a leader also. (Defensive end) DeQuin Evans has been out. He is trying to lead from the sidelines but it becomes harder when you are not in the game. (Defensive end) Collins Ukwu is leading with the way he has been playing. He is playing full speed and playing fast, but he is not a communicator or a big talker. We need a guy who is going to step up and be a guy that grabs them by the throat and gets them back in the huddle for us and get them rallied up when things aren’t going good. We definitely have that on offense. We have four or five guys that we feel are big-time leaders for us, but they have played a lot, too. We have Randall (Cobb), (Derrick) Locke, Mike (Hartline) and Stuart Hines. I really think that Chris Matthews is becoming a leader also.”

Phillips also praised the progress Chandler Burden has made at offensive tackle after moving over from defensive end this spring.

“I am really happy with what Chandler Burden is doing,” the coach said. “He is big, strong and physical and understands how to use his hands, especially coming from defense. He wants to be an offensive lineman. A lot of times when you move a guy from defense to offense, you don’t really want to be on the offensive line; they don’t see themselves as an offensive lineman.”

Phillips continues to be pleased with the spirit he has seen in practice this spring.

“Another really good enthusiastic practice (today),” Phillips said. “The thing we’re trying to do is take our individual fundamental work to the team (portions of practice). We’re a long ways away fundamentally. We’re getting closer but still a long ways away fundamentally, especially blocking and tackling. We worked a lot of drills working on those.

“You have to be happy with the effort and enthusiasm we’re getting. We’re learning how to practice as fast as we can because we need reps; we are getting plenty of reps for the young kids.”


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