There’s nothing like the Kentucky-Louisville rivalry. We hate them. They hate us. It’s a beautiful thing, really. You can feel the air change when you know the game is near, and that’s exactly how it felt at UK’s press conference today. Coach Joker Phillips was loose, QB Max Smith was confident, and LB Avery Williamson was hungry for some quarterback. These are all very positive signs if you are a Cats fan. The team is saying all of the right things as they prepare to head to Papa John’s Stadium this Sunday. The Battle for the Governor’s Cup is shaping up to be one hell of a game.
-First, some bad news. RB Josh Clemons (knee) has been ruled out of Sunday’s game. Phillips expressed confidence in the running back corps, even without Clemons. He stressed that the Wildcats have to be able to run the ball effectively if they want to bring home a victory.
–Phillips loves the attitude in the locker room heading into this game. He thinks that is attributed to the amount of great leaders he has on his football team and said that leadership and success go hand in hand.
-True freshman CB J.D. Harmon will be the fifth corner on nickle situations for the Cats. Phillips also acknowledge Fred Tiller and Daron Blaylock as true freshman defensive backs that will see a lot of playing time.
-Phillips thinks that Louisville’s rank in the AP Top 25 is a great opportunity for the Cats.
-Phillips called Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater “one of the best quarterbacks in the country.”
-True freshman P Landon Foster has earned the starting job. Don’t worry about him struggling, though. Phillips calls him a “different breed” of player.
-Even though LB Tyler Brause was listed as the starter, according to Phillips, the position is “day-to-day.” LB Malcolm McDuffen could still be starter on Sunday.
-When asked about how QB Max Smith the first words that Phillips used was “efficient” and “consistent.” Phillips has previously said that Smith’s accuracy separated him from the pack during the quarterback competition and that he’s been “throwing strikes” since training camp started.
-Smith said he’s nervous for every game, not just the Louisville game. He knows it’s a big game but he’s not going to change anything about himself.
-Smith thinks that being named the starter has made leading his teammates a little bit easier.
-Smith loves being the underdog for the upcoming game. He thinks it allows him to prove to the fans and the nation that he belongs in the spot he’s in.
-Smith gushed about RB CoShik Williams and his transformation from last season to this one. He thnks Williams can be the difference from scoring a touchdown or not.
-C Matt Smith thinks that seeing DC Rick Minter’s defense in practice everyday has gotten the offensive line ready for anything a defense will throw at them.
–Smith said the offensive line is farther along this year than they were last year. He cites the line’s health as the biggest difference because all five starter were able to go through camp.
–LB Avery Williamson: Ooo, I’d love to hit Teddy. Gotta take that shot. Let him know how physical it’s going to be.”
-Williamson called Bridgewater a really good quarterback that will make the defense account for a lot of things, both running and passing.
-Williamson said that film has taught him shutting down Louisville’s run game will really hurt their offense.
-DE Collins Ukwu said knows how critical the game is going to be for their season. “It’s going to be a fun time.”