LEXINGTON, Ky. – After the excitement generated from its historic win over Tennessee to end the 2011 season, the University of Kentucky football team continued its momentum with an exciting first day of spring practice on a gorgeous Wednesday morning at the Nutter Training Facility.
“It was great to be back out here, not only for the coaches but for the players too,” UK head coach Joker Phillips said. “We have had a lot of things going on this offseason with our weight program and school and all that stuff. We have been (working out0 inside, but now we have this great weather and it is a great time to get out here.”
The Wildcats practiced for two hours and 15 minutes in helmets, jerseys and shorts as temperatures moved into the 70s under sunny skies. As one would expect, the first practice focused on fundamentals and introduction of team concepts.
“We just worked on our basic installation with offense, defense and special teams,” Phillips said. “We only worked on one phase of special teams. (We also began) to get them lined up in our base defense and get our base calls in and base adjustments. We did the same thing offensively. We are in shorts so it is really a time to get in as much teaching as you possibly can leading up to Saturday when you put the pads on. We will have another practice Friday in shorts and it will be basic installation and get all the calls communicated among each other so they can play faster.”
Phillips said, given that it was the first practice of the season, he thought the team did well and that the retention rate from last season was high. The head coach said offseason meetings played a large role in the player’s retention rate.
“We have been working on our first-day instillation because we could meet two hours a week during our offseason,” Phillips said. “We get a total of eight hours (each week), two hours of those we allow for meeting time. So we have been installing all through the winter and we didn’t give them as much as we have in the past on the first day because there are so many young guys that we are working with. I thought that their retention was good.”
Kentucky will return to the practice fields Friday for the second of 14 spring practices.