(KSR / @acrphoto)
With only a couple of days until the second in-state showdown of the season, Kentucky again took to the practice field. A tough Western Kentucky team will travel to Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday, ready to prove they are one of the state’s best. None of Kentucky’s coaches are taking them lightly, either. The Hilltoppers have one of the best defenses (12th overall) in the country, with playmakers at every level of their group. Coach Joker Phillips continues to praise the hard-nosed, old-man style football the Hilltoppers play, and knows it will be a challenging contest.
–Phillips: “Throughout their whole program [WKU] is a real physical football team. That’s who they are, that’s who they want to be.”
-Phillips said the defense has put an emphasis on forcing turnovers this week. Kentucky is 9-1 in Phillips’ tenure when they win the turnover battle, 1-10 when the Cats lose it.
–Injury Report: TE Gabe Correll (hip flexor) and OT Trevino Woods (high ankle sprain) didn’t practice. RB Coshik Williams (back spasms) was 100% again today, and will start on Saturday. Phillips continues to be grateful the Wildcats have faced little injury this season. He contributes the health to being a more athletic, stronger, and faster team than in years’ past.
-Phillips thinks the offense will take a lot of confidence from scoring thirty points against Kent State in the second half of last week’s game. “Offense is feeling confident. But, again, you’re only as good as your next snap.”
-With the defense going with more a four-down look than the traditional three-down look against Kent State, Joker was asked if it was going to be a trend. “We’ll do both. But we weren’t in as much four-down as people think. With a hybrid guy like Taylor Wyndham, you can do a lot with your fronts.”
-QB Maxwell Smith on the Hilltoppers trash-talking before Saturday’s game: “I had no idea [about the trash-talking]. Anyone can talk trash, it’s about what you put on the field.”
–Smith sent a text message to his receivers and running backs last week that read: “Let’s score 50 [on Kent State].” When asked if those text will continue every week, Smith said they will, but they aren’t extremely elaborate. Just a couple of sentences about the offense’s goals for the upcoming game.
-Smith said his relationship with backup QB Morgan Newton hasn’t changed at all since he was named starter. Newton still helps Smith when he misses a read, compares what they are seeing on the field, etc.
-DE/LB Bud Dupree on how he’s splitting reps between the rush end and WLB positions in practice: “I pretty much know all of the rush end stuff, so I can just go in a game and play it. I’m mostly practicing at Will during practice.”
-Dupree doesn’t have a favorite position of the two. “Whatever will help my team win, I’ll play it.” Dupree said.
-Dupree thinks that freshman LB Khalid Henderson has stepped up a lot from the summer. He expects Henderson to get game reps at WLB when the coaches move Dupree back to rush-end.
–LB Avery Williamson thought Dupree played an outstanding game in his first start at WLB. “He played well, went out and made some plays. He’s a quick learner, but it takes time switch positions like he is.”
-Williamson says he expects a physical game from WKU. “Strong running team, they are going to try and run the ball right at us. It’s not going to be a finesse game.”
– Today’s Kentucky Sports Radio radio podcast…