Kentucky coach Joker Phillips after the loss to Mississippi State:
Opening statement: “Our injury situation continues to mount. (Ashely) Lowery, head, again. (Patrick) Towles has an ankle. We will look at it tomorrow and see if it’s a high ankle sprain or whatever. So we will look at that tomorrow, and (Martavius) Neloms pulled a hamstring.
“After the fast start that Mississippi State got, I thought our guys competed hard, only gave up one touchdown in the second half. Had a chance late after receiving the on-side kick with about seven minutes. We felt we could get the onside kick, go down, score, be down six and just couldn’t convert it.
“Injuries continue to mount and we continue to get younger and younger. We have now played 14 true freshmen, at one time it was four or five true freshmen competing with our defense and numerous on special teams and it’s starting to show up on special teams more than anything.
“It’s not an excuse. It’s just facts and we’ve got to get these guys better. We’ve got another tough road game next week versus Arkansas. We have to go back to work tomorrow.”
On being snakebit: “Somebody mentioned that the other day. I’ve been through it before, okay? I’ve been through it before. It does help depth down the road because you have to play so many people, someone has to step up, and our saying is the next guy out Somewhere in the season we are not going to have to say that, but that’s the way it is, the next guy has to step up and make plays. We didn’t make plays. I thought our guys completed hard and gave ourselves a glimmer of hope in the second half.
On the quarterbacks: “I thought both of them played hard. Last year they were (in high school) and now they’re playing on the SEC Network. Playing hard. I thought both completed well. Patrick Towles went in and got us the first touchdown and looked good doing it, completed some balls, stood in there on the touchdown pass and took one in the lips, which is sort of what big time quarterbacks should do, and he looked good doing it.
On Towles’ injury: “The sack, he took the sack I think maybe in his second series, he only played two series. Yeah, and, again, that’s a lot of that has to do with youth. You’re not going to break tackles when the guy has both arms wrapped around you, just go down. That’s how competitive he is. That wasn’t my advice to him. This year he’s not going to break a tackle, go down. I like how he completed, let go down and live to play another play.”
If Towles can return from injury: “You know, if he’s available, but if he’s not we won’t. The rule reads if he’s unable to come back after this injury then he can apply for a medical hardship, so we will see how it goes.”
On failing to stop Mississippi State on third down: “You know, yeah, it was. Defensively it was 10 of 18, so they continued and a lot of them we had some third and longs that they converted. You’ve got to feel good about getting off the field on third and long. At halftime, the time of possession was almost 20 and a half to 9 and a half. So that’s not getting yourself off the field on third down, not playing good on “O” line defense and it’s not staying on the field on offense. The offense went three and out first two series and they got the ball back and they were able to grind that long series.
“We have to make sure that we are doing our job offensively also. All of them are involved when they are able to possess the ball that long.”
On team’s injuries: “You have to run out, the next man, yeah, it’s just a game, it’s a game. Similar to 2005, we don’t have the surgeries, but we have a lot of different injuries like we did in 2005 and you continue to get younger each time somebody goes down, because it’s been the older guys more than it has been the younger guys.”
On Towles’ play: “We expect him to go in there and to play well and he did. The series that we scored I think maybe there were four or five plays and we did a good job of pulling it down and running the ball; and then I think that was third down also that he completed to La’Rod on the deep comeback. He went to the right guy which was backside, you took whoever is the softest corner and we had a corner on the front side and he went backside which was perfect and we completed it.
“Then we actually double moved La’Rod did a double move on the outside and they brought pressure and he stood in there and let the outside rusher outside rusher was coming. He stood in there till the last minute and got rid of it. Really pleased with the way he played.”
On Jalen Whitlow’s play: “You know, when he continues to extend plays but, again, when you’ve got young guys and there were some mistakes made by both, whether it be motions or shifts, and they are talented enough to make plays. But they’re going to make mistakes and they both made mistakes but they give you a chance with their abilities that they have.”
On where team goes from here: “We go back to work tomorrow. When we get ready for an Arkansas team, go on the road, and it will be a tough environment. That’s where we go. We head to Arkansas.”
On the bad luck this year: “It is a little frustrating that you don’t because we thought we were going to be really, really good on offense, especially after what you saw the first couple of games we thought we had a chance to be a really good offense and our defense if they could continue to improve and they have, but we thought we could put it all together and have a pretty good football team it’s still out there. It’s still out there. We’ve got to get the guys that are available ready to compete and continue to work to have that same type of offense that we thought we could have.”
On Towles’ injury: “We will look at it tomorrow, but today he couldn’t get up on his toes, and it’s unfortunate. You’re talking about a team that hasn’t taken a lot of sacks. We have not taken a lot of sacks, taken one the last three weeks so both of our quarterbacks two of the four played go down, but we have not been a team that’s given up a lot of sacks.”
On a different package for Whitlow: “A little bit. We had more of an option getting the ball on the perimeter with him than we did with Towles, and both of them the passing game was similar, we had a little bit more running game for Towles.”
On what the quarterback rotation would have looked like: “It’s hard to say, I wish I could sit here and tell you you could be criticizing me for the rotation that means both of them was healthy, meaning that one didn’t get more I wished that was the question today everybody was asking because I would have both of them healthy but we didn’t so we will never know.”