From KSR student intern Rashawn Franklin…
Joker Phillips held an afternoon press conference today. He discussed the loss to the Florida Gators and the upcoming game against the LSU Tigers. The student athletes available for interview were Right Tackle Billy Joe Murphy and Free Safety Mikie Benton.
-The injury report: RB Josh Clemons (hamstring) and WR Gene McCaskill (back) are questionable for Saturday’s game. Safety Martavius Neloms (concussion) is day-to-day but will practice this week on a limited basis. RB Raymond Sanders (knee) and DE Collins Ukwu (knee) are both deemed out against LSU. DT Mark Crawford (suspension) will be active against the Tigers.
-Coach Phillips believes it would be huge for the program to win at Death Valley against the number one team in the nation, and that a clean game on both sides of the ball can help accomplish that.
-This will be Coach Phillips’ first time facing the Tigers and LSU head coach Les Miles’ third time facing the ‘Cats. Miles is 1-1 in the previous two matchups.
-Kentucky is 3-9 all-time against teams’ ranked No. 1 in the AP poll.
-Joker mentioned the great backfield of LSU. Running backs Spencer Ware and Michael Ford have led the Tigers to 171.1 rushing yards per game.
-LSU’s stadium is widely known as one of the toughest places to play in the country. Coach Phillips won at Death Valley as a player in 1983 and hopes to have similar success this year. “You have to try and block out the atmosphere to be successful,” he says.
-When asked about the possibility of going against LSU without his top two running backs (Clemons and Sanders) Coach Phillips thinks that we have pretty good depth behind those players to still have success, although he expects Josh Clemons to play Saturday. LSU is only allowing 53.3 rushing yards a game.
-Joker doesn’t think the 2007 victory over LSU matters for too much for either side.
-Coach Phillips mentioned that Right Guard Larry Warford and Safety Winston Guy are playing at an exceptionally high level.
-Phillips said that this was a great week of recruiting.
-Kentucky didn’t use as much hurry up offense against the Gators that had been used in previous games. Joker contributes that to the pass rush and pressure that Florida generated. He wants to use it a little more against LSU because it helps dictates time of possession and allows the defense to get some rest.
–Danny Trevathan, LaRod King, and Stuart Hines have all transitioned to a leader role, according to Coach Phillips.
–Mikie Benton thinks the defense played pretty well but still has to “buy into the system” and “stay focused”
-Benton has never been to Death Valley but understands how the atmosphere will be and how tough a challenge it will be to get a victory.
-Billy Joe Murphy said it was great to finally get all five starting offensive lineman playing at the same time.
-Even though this is the first time all five starters are playing on the offensive line, Murphy says that whoever is in the game has to do a good job of protecting QB Morgan Newton.
-With two losses in a row at home, Murphy understands the fans’ frustration but said it won’t affect the team’s play. “You can’t dwell on it or worry about it. You just have to continue to try and get better.”
-After watching the game tape, Murphy said mental mistakes were the number one problem against the Gators.
-Murphy was injured in the Western Kentucky game and has been sidelined since. He said the toughest thing about getting back is re-learning technique.
-Murphy said that he and his teammates relish the opportunity to bounce back from the loss to Florida. “We have a great chance to beat the number one team in the nation this weekend at their place.”
This is a tough stretch of conference play for the Wildcats. Barring a loss to Auburn this weekend, South Carolina will be a top ten team in the AP polls when the Wildcats travel to Columbia next weekend. This is a daunting task for any football team especially when you’re a basketball school to begin with.
Hopefully our ‘Cats can find some of that LSU magic we’re all used to!