As University of Kentucky head football coach Joker Phillips took the podium, it was evident that he was trying to hold back a lot of frustration. This game was one of the worst efforts that the Big Blue Nation had seen from their team in decades.
Even Phillips' most ardent supporters were going to have trouble finding the words to explain how a Division I football team could play so poorly. But at that moment, it was Phillips' turn to try and put into words what happened on a very rainy and demoralizing night in Fayetteville.
Below are highlights from the postgame press conference and interviews (full videos of which can be found at the Lexington Herald-Leader website and the Louisville Courier-Journal website). My analysis will be in italics. Bold emphasis is my own, as well.
Head Coach Joker Phillips
- Offense needs to be more "consistent with what we're doing" to be effective. Consistent at what? The offense never seems to run the ball very much (even when it's effective) and you can't tell from week to week what type of plays Jalen Whitlow is supposed to run.
- Claimed that he actually wanted play to continue (instead of being called due to severe weather) so that the team's many young players could get a chance to get more reps.
- Said that the youth of the defense combined with injuries helped contribute to many of the problems they had stopping the Arkansas offense. Phillips was the recruiting coordinator and head coach in waiting at Kentucky since 2008 before taking over the reins in 2010. Why is this team so overloaded with freshmen and sophomores?
- Team must "continue doing things right" to be successful in the season's remaining five games. Ask most Kentucky fans, and they'll say that they're still waiting for that process to start.
How long does Joker Phillips have left as Kentucky's head coach?
Offensive Coordinator Randy Sanders
- Offense couldn't get any consistency. Once again, consistent at what? I understand the problems with injuries, but the play-calling (example: run three straight times, then don't run at all) was perplexing to say the least.
- Felt the team didn't run the ball well enough. Raymond Sanders had five carries for 21 yards. Dyshawn Mobley had five carries for 19 yards. Those aren't incredible numbers, but they're not bad, either...and they probably make a good case for sticking with the run a little bit more.
Defensive Coordinator Rick Minter
- Described the game as a "total beatdown," but applauded young players for fighting hard. It looked to almost anyone watching the game like the team had given up.
- Play-calling on defense was limited due to so many young players on the field for Kentucky.
Quarterback Jalen Whitlow
- Didn't see anything from the Arkansas defense that they didn't expect—just did not execute.
Center Matt Smith
- One of the worst games he has ever been a part of.
- Said it is up to veterans like him (Smith is a senior) to pick the young players up and get them ready for next week.
The University of Kentucky Wildcats' next opponent will be the No. 11 University of Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday, October 20 at Commonwealth Stadium at 7:00 pm ET.
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