(Darrin Phegley/The Gleaner)
Seven Southeastern Conference football coaches visited ESPN early this week. Those in attendance included Arkansas’ John L. Smith, Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze, Florida’s Will Muschamp, Georgia’s Mark Richt, Alabama’s Nick Saban, South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier, and of course, our own Joker Phillips from Kentucky.
While the SEC coaches were wondering around ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut, each took some time to chat with readers of SportsNation. Phillips joined the chat yesterday afternoon after recording a spot for SportsCenter. If you enjoy bland, generic answers, this is the Q&A session for you!
Q: Dustin (Kentucky) — Coach Phillips, which player(s) have caught your and your staff’s eye so far this off-season?
A: Joker Phillips — There are plenty of guys that have had good off-season’s. There are guys that have had excellent springs, excellent off-season’s. The thing we must do is be productive in games.
Do we interpret that as nobody as caught your eye? I hear Marcus Caffey, the converted tailback-to-cornerback has impressed during practice, as has senior wide receiver La’Rod King.
Q: Matthew (Sycamore) — Dear Coach Philips, What talents does your team have?
A: Joker Phillips — We think we have some young talented players along with some experienced guys that have been in our program for a long time. We are developing some more playmakers at the skill positions which should give us some chances to have production on both sides of the ball.
So if I understand correctly, Kentucky has some freshmen, some seniors, and some guys in between? Developing those skill positions will be a key progress-determiner for Mitch Barnhart at the end of the season. Was Phillips able to build on last season and move the program forward, even if the wins and losses don’t show it?
Q: Matthew (Sycamore) — Are you happy with your starting QB?
A: Joker Phillips — We have a QB competition. We have two quality guys that have played a lot of snaps in this league. Two very very talented incoming freshmen.
Maxwell Smith is your quarterback. Morgan Newton is the only threat for that to change, and barring an injury (knock on wood), Smith would need some abysmal games after the season started to be replaced. Patrick Towles is an outstanding QB, but needs time in the system and will most likely redshirt. Jalen Whitlow, the three-star athlete from Alabama will likely never line up at quarterback for the Cats. He’s too valuable in other positions.
Q: Susan (Louisville) — What position will be the most improved from last year in your opinion?
A: Joker Phillips — We feel like our DL will be our most improved. We saw a lot of that improvement start to take shape at the end of last season.
Collins Ukwu and Taylor Wyndham on the outside, Mister Cobble and Donte Rumph on the inside. Oh yeah, the defensive line is going to be good.
Q: Michael (Lou.-KY) — Are we working on any fun and interesting wrinkles to the offense this year? One of reasons I think we had success against UT was that they weren’t prepared for our offensive scheme for that game.
A: Joker Phillips — We’re developing an offense that allows us to put people in position to make plays for us. We’re developing an offense where once the kids start to make plays, they have confidence and therefore they develop into playmakers for us.
Make plays… Seems simple enough?
If you just can’t get enough of these verbose and elaborate responses, head on over to ESPN.com to read more.