Joker Phillips and the University of Kentucky football team just can't catch a break. In addition to losing to yet another ranked opponent, injuries to some promising young players have made the task of salvaging this season even more difficult for the coaching staff.
Below are highlights from the postgame press conference and interviews (full videos of which can be found at the UK Athletics website). My analysis will be in italics. Bold emphasis is my own, as well.
Head Coach Joker Phillips
- Injuries are continuing to pile up. The status of Patrick Towles (ankle sprain), Martavius Neloms (hamstring) and Ashley Lowery (head injury) will be evaluated this week. It's no secret that I'm not a fan of coach Phillips, but even his most ardent detractors have to have some sympathy for him at this point. It's hard to put a game together when you keep losing players like this team has.
- Impressed with Patrick Towles' toughness (especially when he took a shot right after throwing his first collegiate touchdown pass), but felt that the true freshman needed to go down on the sack that got him injured instead of trying to break the tackle.
- Applauded Jalen Whitlow's ability to extend plays with his legs, but felt that he was still making way too many mistakes with motions and shifts at the line.
- Expressed frustration about injuries keeping them from having what they thought would be a very good offense. I can't believe I'm saying this, but Coach Phillips is right on this one. I don't think the Wildcats would have been world-beaters by any stretch, but just having CoShik Williams and Maxwell Smith healthy would be making a huge difference right now.
Offensive Coordinator Randy Sanders
- When asked how he felt about Jalen Whitlow's play, responded by saying "...I'm going to answer this nicely: It wasn't close to what I expected."
- Felt that Whitlow had plenty of good looks and open receivers, but did not hit them. I hope coach Sanders hasn't forgotten about the run game. We may not have CoShik Williams anymore, but Raymond Sanders and Jonathan George are still more than capable of contributing.
Defensive Coordinator Rick Minter
- Recognized that players were "dropping like flies" from his defensive unit due to injuries, but that's part of football. I've gotta say that Minter has actually begun to win me over the last couple weeks. Despite playing five true freshmen, the defense has continued to improved each week. It may not show up in the score, but that's hard to do when the offense can't stay on the field.
- Was disappointed that they gave up a 30-yard run play; containing big plays like that had been a focus of practice this past week. Your defense also only gave up one touchdown in the second half when the injuries really started to pile up; don't be too hard on yourself, coach.
Quarterback Jalen Whitlow
- Knew that he and Towles were supposed to rotate, but didn't know how much. That's probably something the coaching staff should be telling you before the game.
- Felt out of rhythm the entire game; ball "didn't feel right" coming out of his hand.
Quarterback Patrick Towles
- "Loved every minute" of his first chance to see the playing field. The Big Blue Nation loved it, too, Patrick.
- Not concerned about his injury; feels it isn't serious and wants to work on getting back onto the playing field as soon as possible.
- When asked if he was concerned about losing his redshirt eligibility if he continued to play, Towles gave one of the best answers you could ask for: “Yes, Coach Phillips gave me the opportunity to play and I want to play. If that wasn’t apparent when I came out here and burned my redshirt now, I want to play. This medical redshirt stuff is great if I can’t get back on the field, but I want to get back on the field.”
Kentucky's next opponent will be the University of Arkansas Razorbacks at 7:00 p.m. ET Saturday, October 13, in Fayetteville.
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