LEXINGTON, Ky. – After winning its fifth-consecutive season opener and school-record 20th straight regular-season, non-conference game, the University of Kentucky football team hit the practice field for the third time since the season-opening win with head coach Joker Phillips asking his team to focus and study in anticipation for the home opener Saturday against Central Michigan.
“Message to the team is that we have to be focused and have to be ready to play like every game,” Phillips said after practice Tuesday. “You have to study. This is a different team than we played last week so everybody has to be into the film room. We only get 20 hours and three of those are the game, so our guys have got to do some things on their own.”
Overall, Phillips was pleased with the performance from Kentucky’s defense and special teams in the win last Thursday. The Wildcats’ defense limited Western Kentucky to only three points, while making the Hilltoppers work hard for every yard. UK’s defense currently ranks tied for first in the Southeastern Conference in scoring defense, fourth in total defense, second in pass defense and first in interceptions.
The Wildcats’ defense was led by seniors Danny Trevathan, Winston Guy and Ronnie Sneed, who each posted 10 or more tackles. Trevathan paced the Wildcats with 13 in the victory and currently ranks tied for third in the SEC in that category, while Guy is first in the league with two interceptions and Sneed ranked in the top-10 in both categories.
“I thought our whole defense played well,” Phillips said Monday at his weekly news conference. “I think you're seeing more guys play like Winston Guy and Danny. Our guys played with great effort. It's infectious. I think you see those two guys playing that way and our other players want to do the same.”
Heading into the game on Saturday, Phillips said the team’s offense has to play much cleaner, but he still expects the defense and special teams to perform at a high level.
“It is important for us to look cleaner offensively,” Phillips said. “We still have to play with the same energy played on defense, on special teams, and every phase and we have to be better on offense.”