LEXINGTON, Ky. – University of Kentucky head football coach Joker Phillips and the Kentucky football team begin preparation for in-state rival Louisville on Tuesday with Phillips not overly pleased with his team’s performance.
The second-year head coach said his team wasn’t sharp on the Nutter Training Facility practice fields Tuesday morning, but that not being sharp is sometimes expected at Tuesday practice when the team is still in its early phase of learning the opponent.
“It was a so-so practice,” Phillips said. “But we did some good things. It was the first day of putting in the game plan so obviously there are going to be some mistakes, but it’s a good thing we have two more days to prepare physically. We have to get better than that. Usually, when you are putting in a new game plan and trying to understand the different looks you are getting on both sides of the ball you see some of that on Tuesday. We expect to be a lot sharper.”
One of the keys to the game on Saturday will be which team can run the ball better. The last 15 Governor’s Cup games have been won by the team with the most rushing yardage. Phillips said not only it that important for time of possession and to keep your defense fresh, but also because of the attitude and confidence running the ball well brings to the team.
“It gives you confidence when you are able to run the ball well,” Phillips said. “We haven’t been able to do that yet, but I think it gives your offense and your whole football team (confidence). The running game is about attitude and that sets the attitude of your football team when you are able to run the ball.”
Phillips also is looking for his team to start fast.
“It is vital,” Phillips said on starting the game well. “I think that we did start off fast last week because we went down the field and had a chance to put seven points on the board, and didn’t, but we came away with three. Starting off fast means nothing if you don’t sustain it and that is the thing that we have to do. I do think we started off fast against Central Michigan, but we hit a lull after that and a lot of that had to do with not capitalizing and not getting seven points.”
On the injury front, offensive linemen Matt Smith and Billy Joe Murphy did not practice on Tuesday, however, Smith did some conditioning drills.