WKYT | Lexington, Kentucky | Sports

Joker pleased with team's focus

LEXINGTON, Ky. – For the second consecutive day the University of Kentucky football team has been moved indoors to the Nutter Field House because of rain in the Lexington area, but the gloomy weather didn’t stop the team from having a productive day at practice with head coach Joker Phillips saying the team had high intensity and focus on Wednesday.

“Our intensity was better and our focus was a lot better,” Phillips said after practice Wednesday. “It should be. We have been working on Central Michigan for three days so we should have a better understanding about what we are seeing. Our skills (positions) were a lot better throwing and catching today and we just hope it shows up on the game field on Saturday.”

Phillips said he was very happy with the performance of Kentucky’s wide receivers in practice Wednesday along with junior quarterback Morgan Newton.

“It was definitely a lot better today and a lot of that has to do with understanding what we are seeing on defense after studying Central Michigan for three days,” Phillips said about the play of UK’s offense. “But we shouldn’t have any problems throwing and catching the ball, regardless of who we are playing, but we were a lot better today.

“Morgan had a really good day today. He threw the ball to the right people and the guys caught the ball. That goes a long way with his confidence and his confidence in other guys when they make plays. We protected better also today. When you protect better I think that helps his confidence and when he does throw and we make catches that helps his confidence too.”

The Kentucky head coach has been very impressed with the play of Kentucky’s freshmen so far this season, with several getting a chance to play in UK’s season opener last week. Phillips said the coaching staff continues to deliver the message for all players to handle themselves as “pros.”

“They responded great,” Phillips said when asked how the freshmen that got in the game last Thursday have responded in practice. “That is the reason they are playing because they are mature guys. You watch them in meetings, they are very attentive and they act like pros. That is one of the things that we have been talking to this football team about is being a pro. A pro comes to work early and he pays attention to what is going on and pays attention to what is going on at practice, too. We have a lot of young guys that carry themselves like pros. That is the reason why they are playing.”

Phillips announced after practice that Kentucky injured offensive linemen Billy Joe Murphy and Matt Smith did not practice Wednesday. Phillips said they will reassess the two players Thursday and see if they can practice in order to get prepared for the game Saturday.

UK Athletics to Host “Heroes Day” at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday: The UK Athletics Department will host “Heroes Day” Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium, honoring military, police, firefighters and other first responders at the game. Heroes can present a service ID at the gate 4 ticket booth and receive a complimentary ticket for themselves and a guest, while supplies last. During the game, those first responders in attendance will be honored throughout the game.

“Cat Walk” at 10 a.m.: Fans wishing to participate in the “Cat Walk,” cheering the Wildcats when they enter the stadium Saturday, should gather near Gate 1 of Commonwealth Stadium by 10 a.m.

Saturday is “United Way Day” at Commonwealth Stadium: Saturday’s football game vs. Central Michigan has been designated as UK’s annual “United Way Day” at Commonwealth Stadium.

The United Way is the official charity of the University of Kentucky. Fans are welcome to contribute to the United Way during the first half of the game as volunteers will be passing collection buckets in the stands.

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