Kentucky Football: Coaches, Players React to Embarrassing Loss to Mizzou
As University of Kentucky Football head coach Joker Phillips sat down to answer questions at his postgame press conference, he didn't look nearly as dejected as he did after the loss to UGA last week. Maybe that's because this game got away from his Wildcats much earlier...or because he already resigned himself to the fact that any chance of salvaging this season was lost that afternoon in Columbia.
Below are highlights from the postgame press conference and interviews following Kentucky's 33-10 loss to Missouri (full videos of which can be found at the Lexington Herald-Leader website). My analysis will be in italics. Bold emphasis is my own, as well.
Head Coach Joker Phillips
- Was happy with the effort his team gave, but lamented the amount of turnovers that gave the opposing offense a short field to work with.
- Praised the way the team ran the ball, but very disappointed with the passing game. I'm not an expert, but taking a quarterback out after engineering two impressive straight drives (Whitlow) and replacing him with someone who is just coming off an injury (Towles) might have disrupted things a bit.
- Felt that the loss of momentum after two strong opening drives was the biggest missed opportunity for his team to take control of the game. Once again, see my last statement.
- Asked if there were any decisions he would have made differently, said he may not have taken the five-yard running into the kicker penalty in the third quarter that ended up causing Kentucky to lose field position on the ensuing re-kick. I would have gone with "Taking out Whitlow after two impressive drives and definitively burning Towles' redshirt," but maybe that's just me.
- After a reporter (finally) asked if taking Whitlow out after two successful opening drives hurt the team's momentum, Phillips responded by saying it looked like they were stacking the box a bit more against Towles (probably because he's not as mobile or experienced as Whitlow) and that the main problem was that the team didn't "throw and catch" well enough. I give up. Let's move on...
Could UK have won against Mizzou if Whitlow had stayed in after his second series?
Offensive Coordinator Randy Sanders
- Said that it was "easy" to second-guess the decision to take out Whitlow in hindsight (I think a lot of UK fans were screaming at their televisions about the decision in present time), but Towles had a good week of practice and seemed ready to play. That's odd...I got the the feeling that coach Sanders had the exact opposite impression of Towles' readiness to play just a few days ago (per Larry Vaught).
- Explained that Towles' limited amount of practice time also greatly limited what he was able to do in the game. So once again, the question remains: Why replace Whitlow with Towles after two successful opening drives?
Defensive Coordinator Rick Minter
- Happy with the fact that his defense was able to generate some turnovers. Too bad the offense out-paced them on that statistic by a wide margin.
- Felt that Mizzou ran the ball much better than he had expected them to.
Quarterback Jalen Whitlow
- Did not have an answer for why his team could play so competitively against UGA and USC but so poorly against Mizzou.
- When asked if being taken out of the game after the first two drives disrupted his rhythm, Whitlow tried as best he could to answer the question diplomatically. Finally admitted that it did "slow him down" a bit.
The University of Kentucky Wildcats' next opponent will be the Vanderbilt Commodores in Lexington on November 3 at 12:00 pm ET.
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