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Phillips At The Podium

Here’s a rundown of Kentucky coach Joker Phillips’ comments:

* It’s early in the morning, but Phillips is far from an entertaining speaker.  Kinda dry.  Friendly, but dry.  Last year and so far this year.  We’ll see if he peps up.

* “Our theme this year is ‘Rise.’ … We have shown at Kentucky can compete in this league.  Our challenge to our player — our veteran players and our new players — is to try to fill the void of some of the departed players that we just lost.  We lost a lot of production from this last class.”

* “Rise” means “not just going to bowl games but competing for championships in this league.”  He says he’s asked his team: “Are you ready to do the right things with the right attitude with the right maturity with the right focus everyday?”

* “Our players look different.  They’re a lot bigger, a lot stronger, a lot faster, a lot leaner.” 

* “The teams that are successful in this league are the teams that have discipline, teams that are the most physical, and teams that are tough.  Those are the things that we’ve got to strive to get back to.”

* Phillips said that new co-defensive coordinator Rick Minter has been a “mentor” to him for “a long time.”  He said he wants the defense to “be more attacking, be more aggressive.”  “We want to create minus-yards plays, we want to create turnovers.”

* Asked if he still goes to Rich Brooks for advice and if Brooks is still close to the UK program, Phillips said: “I am close to Rich Brooks.  Richt Brooks is another mentor of mine.  I do talk to Rich.  Don’t talk to him as much as when I first took over, but we do communicate and I got a voice mail from him yesterday. … He is not around as much. … He usually comes to Kentucky during the Keeneland meets.  We usually get to see him in the fall for some games and we usually get to see him in the spring for some practices.”

* Phillips said his coach-in-waiting situation was different than many because he “was a part of building” Kentucky.  The staff knew him because he’d been around a while.

* “We’re very, very close” to getting over the hump in the SEC.  Phillips alluded to the need for the Wildcats to finally knock off Florida and Tennessee.

* Phillips comes across as a really nice guy.  He’s more comfortable this year than last, but he’s still not a great speaker.  (He doesn’t have to be if he can coach.)  Still, he’s the kind of young guy you want to see succeed.

* Phillips said new assistant coach Steve Pardue — a former high school coach in Georgia — will be a “huge” help in recruiting the state of Georgia.  UK’s coach said he wants to do a better job in South Georgia.

* Phillips said recruiting services are “very important” to a school like Kentucky which is located in a state that doesn’t produce as much talent. 

* Asked about Mike Slive’s proposals, Phillips tackled only the idea of compensating players.

* Phillips said he tells his players when they tweet that they might as well write, “Dear General Manager,” because what they write will be looked at by NFL scouts and officials.  Good way to handle it.


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