LEXINGTON, Ky. – The University of Kentucky football team continued to take advantage of its lone bye week of the 2011 season by showing improvement, enthusiasm and competitiveness at the Nutter Training Facility practice fields on Wednesday.
After the two-hour practice, Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips was very pleased about his team’s performance. Phillips said the Wildcats did some competitive drills, while also continuing to work on some special teams areas.
“I think we got better today, especially with our effort and enthusiasm,” Phillips said. “We had a lot of competitive drills that we did today and scrimmaged on kick and punt returns. We got a chance to look at some new guys there.”
Phillips said that true freshmen Daylen Hall and DeMarco Robinson are being practiced at kickoff and punt return to try to spark that phrase of Kentucky’s return game.
“We got a chance to look at Daylen Hall and he should give us a spark and has a chance of being a good returner for us in kick return and punt return,” Phillips said. “He is fearless and he has some ability when he has the ball in his hand. He is a guy we have looked at there and DeMarco (Robinson) has had two kickoff returns in games. We have to get him some confidence in that phase and see if he can help us. He had a good return against a good coverage team today.”
Phillips said the Wildcats will have a scrimmage on Thursday, mostly for the younger and more inexperienced players. The UK head coach said Thursday’s scrimmage will be a great chance for the staff to develop and bring along some of the underclassmen, while also helping to improve the team for this season as well.
“We have to develop and get experience for some of these young kids, while also getting this football team better,” Phillips said. “Tomorrow is a chance for us to do that. We have had two really good days of practice and tomorrow is a day to try to develop some of the young guys and get them up to speed.”
Phillips reiterated the message that the Wildcats will treat the rest of the season like a second season, saying that they mostly have to put what happened the first half of the season behind them.
“You have to reference the things that you did in the first half, but we are definitely treating this like it is a second season,” Phillips said. “We are trying to put the first part of the season behind us. It is the halfway point and we still have a lot of ball to play.”
On the injury front, Phillips said junior wide receiver Gene McCaskill has seen limited reps this week in practice as he still tries to rehab from a sore back.
“Gene has been dealing with some back pain and (sore) knees again,” Phillips said. “He hasn’t had many reps this week because we are trying to get it healed up and also because we are trying to get some other guys reps like DeMarco (Robinson) and Brian Adams. We have kind of put Gene on the shelf this week.”