University of Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips did not try to hide his disappointment as he took to the podium following his team's heartbreaking 29-24 loss to the No. 11 University of Georgia Bulldogs. A win over an elite SEC team would have been a huge lift for a program surrounded by a cloud of negativity and caused even his most ardent detractors to pause (if only for a moment).
Instead, the Wildcats suffered another loss in what many are considering (fairly or not) to be a historically bad season for the team.
Below are highlights from the postgame press conference and interviews (full videos of which can be found at the UK Athletics website and the Louisville Courier-Journal website). My analysis will be in italics. Bold emphasis is my own, as well.
Head Coach Joker Phillips
- Very proud of the way that the defense played against the run, but felt that the offense did an incredibly poor job in the passing game. I'm normally one of the last people to defend Joker Phillips, but he should cut himself some slack, here. Kentucky was almost down to one quarterback at one point.
- Team isn't quitting; young players are showing up to practice every day ready to work. That's one advantage to Kentucky's current lack of veterans; most of these players are too excited to be seeing the field to let the losses get to them too much.
- When asked what improved the most from the Arkansas, Phillips reiterated that it all started with the defense's ability to stop the run.
- Felt that Morgan Newton was well utilized as a wildcat quarterback in the red zone. Ummm...let's move on...
Defensive Coordinator Rick Minter
- Proud of how his unit stopped the run and stopped UGA on third down, but still disappointed they gave up too many big plays.
- Good to see kids who have only played days (rather than years) starting to develop confidence and make plays. Minter deserves a lot of credit for how well this young defensive unit played against the Bulldogs. I was hard on him at the beginning of the year, but he's doing a lot more with a lot less than he started with.
Offensive Coordinator Randy Sanders
- Team worked on the run a lot in practice last week, which clearly paid off.
- Pointed out that the team had gone three games without a turnover. That is an impressive stat, except it should really be considered only two games. The offense barely touched the ball against Arkansas.
Running Back Raymond Sanders
- Felt it was the best game the team had played this year. Agreed.
- Team still needs to keep playing all the way to the end for 60 minutes, which they finally did tonight...they just came up a bit short.
- Praised the offensive line for giving him some great holes to run through.
The University of Kentucky's next game will be in Columbia vs. University of Missouri Tigers on Saturday, October 27 at 12:00 pm ET.