Joker Phillips met with the media today to let the world know how ready his boys are for Thursday. He also specifically asked for KSR notes and podcast to be attached. True story.
— The offensive line is getting some big names back in the rotation. Stuart Hines and Matt Smith are both expected to play against Western Kentucky. Although, it is unlikely that either will start. Joker commended sophomore Kevin Mitchell for how he has played in reserve for Hines. Jake Lanefski will start at center for Matt Smith.
— On Morgan Newton, Joker Phillips said his passing accuracy is “night and day” from how he was throwing the ball last season. Joker added that sometimes the coaches don’t even recognize the Morgan Newton they’re seeing on the field now from the Morgan Newton we all saw in the Compass Bowl. Joker emphasized wanting Newton to “get the dang ball” in the end zone this year. I support that desire.
— Joker said Maxwell Smith will get playing time this season, and we could see the true freshman out on the field as early as the Western Kentucky game. If Kentucky can get out ahead of the Hilltoppers early and put the game away, Smith could get some very valuable minutes in the second half. This is Morgan Newton’s team, but if he were to go down to injury at some point in the season, Maxwell Smith would be the guy. Any game experience he can gain will be crucial to his development as Morgan’s backup. Smith enrolled at UK in December and got a head start on the season by practicing in the spring, but actual game time will be brand new to him.
— I wrote about the depth chart earlier today, but there really is something to be said for so many freshmen in the two-deep rotation. The problem is we don’t know what to say about it until we see those guys on the field. It could be the case that this class has really picked things up early and they’re ahead of where most would expect freshmen to be. Or it could be that the team is so thin across the board that freshmen are being pushed into the lineup to fill holes. I think it varies on each side of the ball. On offense, Josh Clemons looks ready to play running back in the SEC and DeMarco Robinson has the skills at receiver to potentially make a big play when called upon. But on defense, the loss of guys like Priester, Huzzie, and Gibbs have forced the staff to call on the freshmen earlier than anticipated.
— One of the big question marks this offseason is which of the three tight ends will emerge as the starter. We’ve learned that Jordan Aumiller will start in the opener against Western Kentucky; but that doesn’t mean Tyler Robinson and Nick Melilo won’t be out on the field with passes coming their way. Aumiller was named to the SEC All-Freshman team last season. He and Robinson also have beautiful blonde hair.
Here’s your podcast. Mark Krebs joined Matt to preview the big game in Nashville and talk about the two new Kentucky basketball players. Enjoy.