LEXINGTON, Ky. – University of Kentucky football head coach Joker Phillips was pleased with his team’s performance in practice on Tuesday, however, Phillips said his team must have “great practices” in order to compete against the 15th-ranked Florida Gators when they roll into Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday for UK’s Southeastern Conference opener.
“We had a good practice but not a great practice today,” Phillips said after practice Tuesday morning. “In order for us to be able to beat these guys that we are about to play we have to have great practices, which means we have to be better tomorrow. Tuesdays are usually like this when you are putting in new game plan. It was a better Tuesday than we have had in the past, but it wasn’t a great Tuesday.”
Much of the concern and game plan for the Gators will be centered on slowing down what Phillips has termed one of the fastest teams in the nation. Florida boasts two very speedy offensive weapons in running backs Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey, who rank first and second on the UF team, respectively, in both rushing and receiving this season.
Phillips said that it is hard for the Wildcats to simulate that kind of speed in practice but the formula is always the same: “put a hat on them.”
“You have to go get a few cheetahs and hyenas and let those guys run about,” Phillips said when asked if there was any way to simulate Florida’s speed offensively in practice. “The thing to slow them down is to put a hat on them. We have beaten teams that have been faster than us in the past and the thing that you have to do is put a hat on them. We have to be good in execution and clean in your play to beat teams like this.”
On the injury front, the Wildcats received good news Tuesday with offensive linemen Billy Joe Murphy, Matt Smith and Larry Warford all practicing Tuesday morning.
“Billy Joe practiced today and looked good,” Phillips said. “Matt Smith had a good solid practice and Larry Warford didn’t look like he had any effects and we thought maybe he wouldn’t practice.”
Kentucky returns to the practice field Wednesday morning to continue preparation for Florida.
Clemons Nominated for 2011 Play of the Year: University of Kentucky tailback Josh Clemons' 87-yard touchdown run against Central Michigan on Sept. 10 has been nominated for the 2011 GEICO Play of the Year. Each week, fans vote for the Play of the Year and the winner will be announced on Best of College Football 2011 on CBS Nov. 25 at 1:30 p.m. ET.
Each week for nine weeks, four incredible college football plays will be nominated as the Play of the Year on the Best of College Football Facebook page (facebook.com/BestofCollegeFootball). A panel of college football experts will evaluate the nine fan favorites and name the 2011 Play of the Year.
Clemons’ run is competing against three other plays from week one, including a game-winning catch from Michigan’s Roy Roundtree, a trick-play touchdown pass from Arizona State’s Jamal Miles, and a punt return from Arkansas’ Joe Adams.
Clemons 87-yard rush against CMU was UK’s longest run since Bernie Scruggs' 88-yard run vs. Georgia in 1970 and was the third-longest touchdown run in school history. The native of Fayetteville, Ga., scored the game-winning touchdown for UK in its season opener with WKU, becoming the first true freshman running back to score a rushing touchdown in the season opener since Donnell Gordon in 1993.
Clemons leads the Wildcats in rushing this season with 37 carries for 193 yards and two touchdowns. Both of the true freshman's touchdowns this season have been game winners. Clemons has played in all three games for Kentucky on the young season, including picking up his first career start last week against Louisville.
“Cat Walk” at 4:45 p.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 4:45 p.m. ET.