Following the football team’s first open scrimmage yesterday where the team ran 140 plays, Joker Phillips spoke with a handful of media personnel and broke down what he saw out of his units.
Starting with the punt team, Joker said Demarco Robinson impressed him with his return skills, and the ability to stand strong and field punts in traffic. Having a dynamic return game can be huge in building up to those “explosion plays” that Joker has talked about before. Last year Kentucky had an abysmal return game, averaging a return of less than five-yards. Robinson has the talent to bring a Randall Cobb-like impact.
At the quarterback position, Joker said there “was more good than bad,” but isn’t ready to talk about a clear-cut leader. But offensive coordinator Randy Sanders is. When asked about Maxwell Smith, Morgan Newton and the three freshmen, Sanders said, “The older guys are still ahead,” but that it’s obvious Newton is coming off shoulder surgery. That just about confirms what Joker isn’t ready to confirm. Maxwell Smith is the acting-starter at quarterback in fall camp. To help Smith, Joker said he is looking to his wide receivers to make big plays for the team.
Defensively, Joker said the unit had a pick-six by Malcom McDuffen, and another interception that he says should have been returned to the house by Cartier Rice, but said he missed an open cut-back lane. “He’s used to taking a knee,” Joker said, referencing Rice’s game-winning interception in the end zone against South Carolina in 2010 where he fell to the field, cradling the ball for a touchback.