LEXINGTON, Ky. – The University of Kentucky football team will travel to Baton Rouge, La., on Saturday to face No. 1 LSU for its first true road test of the 2011 season and according to head coach Joker Phillips, true freshman tailback Josh Clemons is healthy and will start against the Tigers.
“He practiced all day,” Phillips said about Clemons after practice Wednesday. “He made it through the practice and he will be ready to go. Tomorrow will be a practice to make sure everyone understands the plan. It won’t be full speed but three-quarter speed. He should make it to the game. He is healthy enough and from what I saw today, he will be the starter.”
Clemons moved into the starting lineup for the last two games when starting sophomore tailback Raymond Sanders incurred a knee injury in the second game of the season vs. Central Michigan. Clemons has rushed for 200 yards this season and two touchdowns. Both TDs were the game-winning scores vs. Western Kentucky University and Central Michigan.
One of the biggest concerns for the Wildcats heading into the game is dealing with the crowd noise that the 90,000-plus fans at Tiger Stadium bring on gameday. The UK staff played crowd noise over speakers at practice Wednesday to try to simulate what the noise will be like Saturday.
“We had a lot of crowd noise playing today at practice,” Phillips said. “I’m not for sure if we can have the same effects that it will be down in Tiger Stadium, but we did work with it and we didn’t seem to have any miscues with the crowd noise. Our goal is to get better and improve and we will see how much we will improve on Saturday.”
Phillips said although it is hard to truly simulate how loud it will be, bringing in the outside noise couldn’t hurt.
“It definitely helps,” Phillips said when asked how much practicing with crowd noise helps the team. “We try to put it right behind the quarterback. That is the way it will seem – like its right in your huddle. We have to use a lot of signs, especially for the outside guys and we have to be able to communicate because it is going to get loud. That is when we have to try to get the momentum back and keep the momentum.”
Kentucky will return to the practice field Thursday before leaving for Baton Rouge, La., on Friday.
Walk-on Success at UK: After practice Tuesday, Coach Joker Phillips fielded questions about success of walk-ons with Kentucky football. UK has had a walk-on (or someone who came to UK as a walk-on) as a regular starter since 2001. Here’s a list of walk-on/former walk-ons who have been regular starters:
2011 – TE Nick Melillo, DT Luke McDermott, FS Mikie Benton, K Craig McIntosh
2010 – DT Luke McDermott, K Craig McIntosh
2009 – FB John Conner
2008 – FB John Conner
2007 – FB John Conner
2006 – C Matt McCutchan, OG Trai Williams, FB Terrell Bankhead, CB Karl Booker
2005 – C Matt McCutchan, OG Trai Williams
2004 – C Matt McCutchan, P Sevin Sucurovic
2003 – P Anthony Thornton
2002 – P Glenn Pakulak
2001 – S Patrick Wiggins, P Glenn Pakulak