LEXINGTON, Ky. – The 2011 University of Kentucky football team held its first full-pads practice Tuesday, with second-year head coach Joker Phillips saying the team entered practice with one goal in mind: helping Kentucky get better.
“Another good day in terms of competing and attitude,” Phillips said after practice. “Again we have to continue to play smart. We have guys all over the place and on the ground and that is when you start getting injuries. Our phrase today was to make sure we helped Kentucky get better. Kentucky can’t get better if we are not playing smart.”
Phillips said although he is trying to focus the team on making sure they practice smart, he has been very pleased and excited about the speed in which both the offense and defense are playing thus far in fall camp.
“Defensively, they don’t always know what they are doing, but they are running really hard to the football,” Phillips explained. “They are trying to create things that we have talked about, which are minus-yardage plays and create turnovers.”
One of the reasons the defense seems to be playing faster is the challenge brought by the offensive line each down. Phillips believes the offensive line’s performance in practice is helping make the defense play better and faster.
“Up front, if you don’t come off the ball against those guys (the offensive line) you are going to be on your back,” Phillips said. “Those guys are playing fast, running off the ball and doing what they are supposed to do. They are all really, really smart and understand what is going on. You seldom see a mistake, especially out of the first five. Those defensive guys up front, they have to bow up. I think that is making those guys play faster too and play harder.”
After a successful first day of full pads, the Wildcats will be back on the practice field Wednesday for its first two-a-day practice this fall. Phillips said offensively, the morning practice will be more running focused, while the afternoon session will be more about the passing game.