Sources tell KSR that the University of Kentucky football field and locker room have been the site of a number of heated conversations between Coach Joker Phillips and Defensive Coordinator Rick Minter over the past 10 days. According to multiple sources, Phillips and Minter had a verbal confrontation on the sideline during the UL game about the defensive philosophy and alignments utilized during the game. According to the sources, Phillips became agitated in the second half and screamed audibly to Minter, “we have to do something different. You have to change it up.” Phillips’ issues primarily revolved around the defensive alignments, but also included personnel decisions as to what positions each player was in on the defensive side of the field. He yelled at Minter that they needed to “try man” and Minter made no changes, leaving the team in a primarily zone look. The two argued loudly, but there was no obvious change during the game.
The sources tell KSR that the disagreement spilled into practice and pre-game meetings in the week leading up to the Kent State game. According to one source, “Joker was very upset that no changes were made after he made it clear that he wanted to see a different philosophy. He confronted him (Minter) about it and there was a disagreement.” According to the sources, after some discussion, changes were agreed upon by the two players, specifically involving the movement of players onto different positions on the field. Bud Dupree, Taylor Wyndham and Avery Williamson all were given slightly different assignments for the Kent State game and some added packages emphasizing pressure on the quarterback were installed. Joker also made it clear that he wanted to see more young players in the game and given a chance to make plays.
Phillips has made no comments on any disagreement in defensive philosophy, although he did mention a comment made to Minter about the status of the defense. Today he told reporters, “you can’t stop everything. But I’ve told Rick (Minter), ‘We’ve got to stop something.'” One source tells KSR, “the relationship between Joker and Rick is not broken, but there were some issues there when Joker believed Rick ignored him during the game. But winning cures everything, and things are better now.” We will see more about the defense and what changes are in place Saturday against Western Kentucky.