LEXINGTON, Ky. – It’s a busy time for the University of Kentucky football team as the Wildcats had three practices in a 26-hour period on Monday and Tuesday, with video study and meetings wrapped around the on-field work.
The Wildcats practiced Monday morning in full pads, followed by workouts in helmets and shoulder pads Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning. Coach Joker Phillips continues to feel good about his team’s overall work ethic.
“With three practices in that period of time, they (the players) worked to push themselves through it,” Phillips said Tuesday. “We had an emphasis on passing (in Tuesday’s practice), with a lot of 7-on-7 and some work on blitzing.”
On Monday, Phillips gave a review of the video from Saturday’s scrimmage.
“We had some big plays made by our receivers, tight ends and (at) running back,” Phillips said. “Then on defense there were some takeaways for touchdowns, which we haven’t had in a long time. We had one last year but we have to have more. There were big plays on both sides of the ball and that is one thing we have been trying to stress. It is hard to have to drive the ball. We are continuing to work hard every day and try to build a team. That is one thing that we wanted to come out of this summer with was a better football team and I think we are getting better.”
Individually, Phillips praised the effort and play of senior wide receiver La’Rod King offensively and junior linebacker Avery Williamson defensively. Both players seem to be stepping up as leaders for their respective sides of the ball.
“I thought La’Rod King competed his tail off and we expect that from him,” Phillips said Monday. “He is a guy that has been around here a long time and knows how to get lined up and he plays really fast. Defensively, I like the way that Avery Williamson has taken ownership of the defense and that showed up in the offseason, not just now. That showed up in the offseason this summer the way he went about his business and we are starting to see it carry onto the football field also.”
Phillips also continued to talk about the young tailbacks in Dyshawn Mobley and Justin Taylor. Phillips said both players give “a really good impression,” especially in the short-yardage scrimmage the team had Monday.
“We had a short-yardage scrimmage this morning (Monday) and some of those young backs (looked good),” Phillips said. “Again, we keep talking about moving the piles and sometimes it is not blocked clean and you have to (push through). Those guys do a really good job, plus they have some girth to them.”
“Based on what I have seen both of them will play,” Phillips said when asked if both would see playing time this fall. “When is the last time we have made it through this thing with one back or with two backs or with three backs? When was the last time? It just doesn’t happen and I’m talking about in this league. It is not just us, but in this league it is very seldom that a back lasts 12 games in this league. If we had to do it today they all would play.”
The head coach started that there was no decision made on the starting quarterback, something Phillips discussed earlier in fall camp when he said a decision could take after the second scrimmage of fall camp, or even longer.
“All four of those guys (quarterbacks) did some good things and we are only a week into it,” Phillips said. “I think we have to give it a little bit more time to figure out if there will be some more separation. Again, we are trying to see if there is separation with one and two, and three and four. There is nothing new.”
Off the field and inside the locker room, Phillips continues to be pleased with the group he has mentally, saying the team leaders have done a great job creating a team environment.
“We have a great locker room right now, I love this locker room,” Phillips said. “We have guys doing the things the right way and especially the guys at the top are leading the young guys and teaching them how we do things. We need all 105 of these players to be with us when we play Sept. 2.”
Instead of having lunch on campus after the Tuesday morning practice, the Wildcats took a short break by having lunch and some relaxation at a local swimming pool. The Cats returned to meetings Tuesday afternoon and evening. The next on-field work is Wednesday.