There’s a sort of calmness over the Kentucky Football program as we head into the final weeks of Joker Phillips’ tenure as head coach. The inevitable has happened. Both Phillips and his team knows he will not remain with the program following these last two games and the anxiety of a decision is no longer a dark cloud hanging over their heads from week to week. Moving forward allows the players to focus solely on football and working on salvaging what’s left of this season. Phillips met with the media today as a lame duck coach, but still maintaining his professionalism while at the helm of the program. In the video above, Phillips speaks on a physical Samford team, the UK Football program going forward, and his personal plans for the future. Take a look.
-Besides the players out for the season, Kentucky is pretty healthy going into “Senior Night.” LB Jabari Johnson (unknown) is day-to-day, while S Tay Neloms (hamstring) is expected back to practice this week.
-Phillips gave a memorable quote as he exited the presser. When asked if he would help Mitch Barnhart figure out who’s Kentucky’s next football coach should be he said, “Nobody ever asks the guy on the way out, ‘Hey, I know you did a shitty job while you were here, but help me out.'” No doubt, coach. No doubt.
-Senior DE Collins Ukwu thinks the bye week helped the team relax, especially after the news of Phillips’ dismissal. “It seems like everybody is a lot more energized and we are all ready to get back to playing football.”
-Ukwu knows his last game in Commonwealth Stadium will be emotional, but he’s ready for it. “My mom is going to be there so I know it’ll be emotional. Hopefully I’m not boo-hooing or anything like that. Its been a nice four to five years for me, though. I have a lot of memories with Coach Phillips and Coach Brooks, so it’ll be pretty sad knowing it’ll be my last time in this stadium.”
–RB Jonathan George said that more than anything this team still has it’s pride to play for. “We’ve got a great group of seniors that keep us looking at the positives. Those guys have continued to push the younger players to do the best job they can.”
-When asked if it feels different to go into a game you know you are supposed to win, DL Tristian Johnson referenced the famous 2007 upset of Appalachian State over Michigan. Johnson remembers watching that game in high school and said that taught him “no win is guaranteed in football”.
-I asked Johnson if there are any particular characteristics that he wants in the next Kentucky Football coach. He replied “Not really. I can only control what I can control. Whoever they choose, I just have to trust it’s the right decision and go work hard for whoever it is.”