Transcript of Joker Phillips press conference:
COACH PHILLIPS: Max Smith, get him back, lose him to an ankle. Dakotah Tyler, a knee, we’ll be able to is look at it better tomorrow. Zach West shoulder, Ray Ray (Raymond) Sanders has a knee. Those things we’ll take a look at, get X rays and MRIs tomorrow, then be able to take a closer look at them.
We made plays early in the game. We’ve been trying to get started a little faster by changing the way we practice a little bit and getting right into some 11 on 11 stuff right away, and it showed a little bit. Now we’ve got to do a better job of finishing.
We didn’t finish the end of the first half very well offensively. Then we didn’t finish in the second half. So those guys, I thought the defense played well in the first half, and gave up 20 something yards rushing, which, against that team we just played, as athletic as their quarterback is and as big and physical as their tailback is, a pretty good job.
The second half they were a little more patient South Carolina was. Stuck with the running game a little bit longer, and was able to rush to get 200 yards rushing on us which we couldn’t get them stopped and get ourselves off the field defensively.
We just couldn’t get anything going on offense in the second half to try to match the scores that they made. I think their first three possessions they scored touchdowns, and we couldn’t match it. Questions.
Q. Jalen Whitlow looked like he tweaked his ankle.
COACH PHILLIPS: Looked like he did, but he didn’t go to the trainer, so the trainers didn’t come to me with anything.
Q. Max’s ankle, he went in the back for a while. Did he get X rays?
COACH PHILLIPS: He did get X rays. X rays are negative, but we’ll take another look at it tomorrow.
Q. Question regarding South Carolina’s size wearing UK down in the second half?
COACH PHILLIPS: We were a little bit more patient with the run game. Our defense had to play one of the things that we talked about before the game was our goal line, and talk to our all three phases of our guys that are in charge. One of the things the time of possession. You’re seeing how the time of possession has been our opponents have had a huge time of possession.
One of the things that we’ve talked about defensive is our defense has to get themselves off the field on third down. You’ve got to play really good in goal line defense. In the first half, what do we do? We have a goal line stop. We played really good on third down to get ourselves off the field. Therefore those guys don’t have the ball as much, and we control the time of possession in the first half. Second half we didn’t do that. We didn’t get stops on third down, and we didn’t get stops on the goal line.
When they get that many possessions, it becomes we do have to wear down a little bit. We just didn’t get ourselves off the field.
Q. It looked like a percentage of the playbook was limited for Jalen. But was that the case after halftime that they made adjustments to those plays?
COACH PHILLIPS: You know, I know at halftime coming off I talked to Dick (Gabriel), and Dick was talking about the playbook with them and how well he was doing. He was doing well. He was. He made some plays. But the same motions and shifts that we do became really hard for him. He missed a few of them. Some of the pressure that he got was because he didn’t send a motion or didn’t send shifts.
But, again, he’s a guy who is a talented guy. A guy who we always say a freshman, he’s going to make some plays, but they’re going to make some mistakes also. They made a few plays in the first half, but made some mistakes that got you away from some of the things because you’ve got to send all the shifts and motions that we want.
Q. Did you feel like at the end of the first half you have the ball, you could punch it in there. It’s a 24-7 game going into the half.
COACH PHILLIPS: We did. We missed a huge opportunity. You’ve got to get some points. You know, we had our field goal team ready to run out on the field. We didn’t anticipate fumbling the ball, and now it’s just going for the ball, and we pick it up, and now it’s only two or three seconds left instead of 10 to 12. So we missed a huge opportunity to get points.
I think that was a momentum swing. It was. It was a huge momentum swing. We got the ball back in the second half. I think it would have definitely helped if we got some points out of that.
Q. Talk about the second down there where you ended up calling the timeout?
COACH PHILLIPS: Again, just really methodical and getting the play calls. You know, I mean it’s just like really slow. This guy didn’t hear it. And things that can’t happen, happened. Things that can’t happen, happened on second down, and you use up a timeout.
Once the clock is moving and now you’re losing even more time. So you can’t get the clock all the way down. If I had known that, I would have called timeout at 35 seconds on the play clock. So those are the things that happened on that second down should not happen and can’t happen.
Q. Talk about in the first half and how you guys played …
COACH PHILLIPS: Yeah, exactly. We played with great effort. Our guys played with great effort. I tell you, I think they have all year. We’ve played with enthusiasm. The thing we did was play with total focus. That is the thing that this football team is young. There were a lot of babies out there making plays for us again. But there were a lot of mistakes made out there also when you have a lot of young players out there playing for you.
Q. Can you talk about Marcus Lattimore being such a big back?
COACH PHILLIPS: You know, that’s the same question I just answered. A little bit, yeah, but this is SEC ball. You’ve got to go out and get stops.
Q. Talk about playing in the first half with such a young team. How concerned were you at halftime?
COACH PHILLIPS: Wasn’t concerned about that. I wanted to come out with enthusiasm. I didn’t even want to try to bring them down. I wanted to keep them up. The thing we talked about is 30 more minutes of the same, total concentration, total focus that we needed in the second half.
Q. What was encouraging for you about Jalen?
COACH PHILLIPS: Encouraging is that Jalen made some big time throws for us. Again, he has a chance to extend plays with his feet. He made a few plays for us in the quarterback run game, and he also made a few plays by pulling the ball down and making them play with his feet. So that was encouraging for him.
He looked like he had been there. Again, he didn’t have the bright eyes that you see in some guys. Last year when we said, Max, you might be up. Max was in his locker, looking at the playbook. You know, this guy just went out there and played. Again, made a few plays, but, again, we’ve got to continue to get him better so he can have even more of the playbook the next time he’s able to play.
Q. The freshman made a lot of plays, especially Daron Blaylock blocking the punt?
COACH PHILLIPS: He blocked the punt. He said he blocked it. A lot of young guys out there making plays. I’ve been saying that I think that (A.J.) Legree was a guy that I said we have to get the ball in his hands because he plays so fast for us. He hadn’t caught a pass up until last week. But you could still see it, how fast the guy plays when he’s on the field. He’s a really tough guy. He’s a really physical wide receiver. He’s a guy that on the posts, that was as good a throw and as good a catch with the guy hanging as I’ve ever seen.
Those are true freshmen. I’m talking true freshmen. One playing at Prattville (High School in Alabama) last year, and the other one playing at Fort White (High School in Florida), playing against one of the top defenses in the country. So I think it was really encouraging to see those young guys making plays for us.
Q. Are there things you can do to tweak this offense to take advantage of Jalen?
COACH PHILLIPS: Might have put more quarterback run game in. We’ve put a little in. We may have to add a little more in for him because he can make plays with his feet. He’s not a great wildcat kind of guy, because most of the wildcat runs are downhill, physical runs. You don’t want to get your quarterback into that type of all the time into those type of runs. But there are some other things that we’ll have to do with them.
Q. Can you talk about one of the plays where Jalen looked to be sacked but got out of it and made some yards …
COACH PHILLIPS: Yeah, he’s got the ability. That’s the reason we decided that. He can extend plays for us and has the ability to escape in the pocket. We saw it on that play.
Q. You didn’t see much of Raymond Sanders or Jonathan George in the second half, only had three or four carries for 21 in the second half. Why was that?
COACH PHILLIPS: Yeah, we weren’t on the field a lot. We just didn’t get enough plays. I think the first series we made a first down and went three and out right after that first down. We just didn’t get enough plays to get a chance to run the football.
Q. Joker, Max’s ankle, if it is serious enough would you have to burn Patrick Towles redshirt?
COACH PHILLIPS: Might, you know. But, again, we won’t do that unless Max is out for a while. Also, we won’t do it unless we’re going to play him. At this point in time, there is no sense in taking it off of him if he’s not going to play a significant amount.
Q. What was the key to their defense being more effective in the second half after you were able to really establish the run?
COACH PHILLIPS: Just the pressure they put on us with the front four in the passing game. Again, we got ourselves into some long down situations that we weren’t able to continue to establish the run the way we did in the first half.
Q. What do you want them to take from this game? Do you want them to be more upset about losing?
COACH PHILLIPS: I want them to think that we’ve got to play 60 minutes. When you’re young as a football team as ours and you’re playing against the number 6 team in the country, you have to play clean, fast, with great effort, which I thought we did. But you’ve got to do it for 60 minutes. We did it for 35 minutes then they took over and took the momentum. We never got it back.
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