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Phillips "Optimistic" Locke will Return against Vanderbilt

University of Kentucky football head coach Joker Phillips said that he is “optimistic” that senior tailback Derrick Locke, who has missed the past four games with a shoulder injury, will return to play for the Wildcats against Southeastern Conference foe Vanderbilt at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday.

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Video: Joker Phillips after Tuesday’s practice

Content provided by John Clay’s Sidelines.

Kentucky coach Joker Phillips talks about Derrick Locke and Senior Day.


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SEC Headlines – 11/5/10 Part Two

1.  Trey Burton says that a tricky new Florida formation is “one of the coolest things (that’s) ever been done on offense.”

2.  Urban Meyer says Andre Debose will play and Jordan Reed will throw against Vanderbilt.

3.  Receiver Frankie Hammond Jr. is getting more playing time for the Gators.

4.  Georgia’s new scheduling philosophy: Fewer road games, smaller opponents.

5.  Sophomore tight end Orson Charles is getting better and better.

6.  Mark Fox’s basketball Dawgs opened their season with an 85-48 exhibition win over Augusta State last night.

7.  This writer says UK fans will learn a lot about Joker Phillips head coaching abilities over the Cats’ last three games.

8.  Derrick Locke is expected to dress out tomorrow… which could be good news for Kentucky’s passing game.

9.  Kentucky is still waiting for word on Enes Kanter.

10.  John Calipari + Warren Buffett + a KFC = a Wall Street Journal story.

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Locke to dress

Content provided by Chip Cosby on UK football.

Kentucky senior tailback Derrick Locke will dress for Saturday’s game with Charleston Southern and it will be a game-time decision on whether he will play or not, UK Coach Joker Phillips said following Thursday’s practice. Locke has missed UK’s past three games with a shoulder injury.


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UK’s Locke Cleared By Doctors, But Phillips Should Sit Him

If he wants, Kentucky running back Derrick Locke can return to the football field this weekend.

After missing three games with a shoulder injury that was originally believed to be a stinger, Locke has been cleared by UK’s medical staff to play on Saturday.  He made it through practice yesterday.  And Joker Phillips is giving him the final say regarding his possible return.

“It’s up to him whether he feels like he can protect himself,” Phillips said in The Lexington Herald-Leader.  “He’s been cleared by the doctors.  He just doesn’t have the strength.  If he feels like he has the strength to protect himself, he’ll go.”

Phillips won’t consider resting Locke against Charleston Sourthern in order to make sure he’s available against Vanderbilt next week.

“If he can play, we’ve got to play Derrick Locke.  What are we going to save him for?  There’s no need to save him.  This is a game we’ve got to win.”

Okay.  Fine.  Locke made it through non-contract drills in practice yesterday.  The Wildcats need to beat Charleston Southern on Saturday.  I get it.  And doctors have cleared UK’s running back, too.

But earlier this week, Phillips said that Locke was still dealing with fatigue problems in his injured shoulder.  He had trouble gripping the football the more he used his arm.  Last week, Phillips revealed that Locke had lost feeling in his arm.  “It’s not just a stinger,” Phillips said.  “He hasn’t had any feeling back in three weeks, so it’s a little bit more than a stinger.”

Now maybe I’m just being a little namby-pamby on this one, but when you’re talking about nerve damage — and that’s what a run o’ the mill stinger is — Phillips might want to err on the side of caution.  For his player’s sake.  And this was not your average stinger, either.

After going three weeks without feeling in his arm, Locke should be held out for one more game.  Not even team doctors know how his shoulder will respond when Locke collides with another player.  Why not let that shoulder strengthen for another full week before putting him on the field?

The player — as players do — will likely try to give it a go on Saturday.  Therefore Phillips should take the decision out of the player’s hands.  UK’s coach should make it clear to everyone that he puts his players’ long-term health ahead of wins and losses. 

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Locke update

Content provided by Chip Cosby on UK football.

Kentucky running back Derrick Locke has been cleared by doctors. And Wednesday, he made it through an entire practice. Now the decision on whether he returns for Saturday’s game with Charleston Southern is up to Locke.

“It’s up to him whether he feel like he can protect himself,” Phillips said. “He’s been cleared by the doctors. He just doesn’t have the strength. If he feels like he has the strength to protect himself, he’ll go.

Locke has missed UK’s past three games with a shoulder injury, but Phillips said he started to looked like the old Locke during non-contact drills on Wednesday.

“He looked really good in the drills I saw him,” Phillips said. “He caught the ball well out of the backfield. Now he didn’t get hit; he had a red jersey on. But he looked fast. His legs are not hurting. We know that.

Phillips said he’s given no thought to holding Locke out this week and saving him for the Vanderbilt game on Nov. 13.

“If he can play, we’ve got to play Derrick Locke. What are we going to save him for? There’s no need to save him.  This is a game we’ve got to win. You heard what Coach (David) Turner said the other day. This is a game we’ve got to win. We’ve got to play everybody we have available to win this game.”


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Report Card: Kentucky Football Under Joker Phillips

Content provided by A Sea Of Blue.

Joker Phillips' first season has been up and down, but three very winnable games remain.

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James Crisp – AP

Joker Phillips’ first season has been up and down, but three very winnable games remain.

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The following article was written by Tyler Montell. He bleeds blue. Graduated from UK in 2009 after serving as the Student Body President and on the Board of Trustees. He now attends law school in enemy territory, Louisville. He is the lead writer for Kentucky football on Saturday Down South.  Tyler will be guest-blogging periodically for A Sea of Blue during the football season.

“I’m handing the ball off to you, now run with it.” Those eleven words, uttered in a voicemail message, signified the end of one era; and the beginning of another in Lexington. Joker Phillips told Sports Illustrated’s Cory McCarteny that the message left by Brooks was waiting for him when he arrived home from the 2009 Music City Bowl. While the message only contained few words, its consequence will be felt for decades.

The question is not whether or not the ball now belongs to Phillips; he signed on as head coach in January. The question remains whether Mr. Phillips is in fact running with the ball. In other words, are we making progress?

The program enjoyed moderate success in the last part of Brooks’ tenure in Lexington, appearing in four consecutive bowls games. However, many fans remain discontented that the team has yet to rise above a lower tier Tennessee bowl appearance. Whether it is blind ambition, stubborn arrogance, or wishful thinking- fans expect the program to mature and take the next step in the direction of the SEC elite; or at least break eight wins. Are we on that path? Are we carrying the ball towards the goal, even after a 4-4 start this season? In a word: Yes.

To properly evaluate the state of the Kentucky program, we must start before the South Carolina win, the Ole Miss debacle, the Florida blowout loss, and the Louisville season opener. It is oft said that programs are built in the offseason, and for Kentucky, this rings true. One of the criticisms from former players from Brooks’ tenure was the offseason training program. While upper echelon programs use professional, position specific conditioning programs, Brooks took a ‘one size fits all’ approach. To his credit, Phillips went after one of the best conditioning and strength coaches in the business in Cincinnati Bengals’ Rock Oliver.

Phillips brought in Mike Summers to coach the offensive line, David Turner to coach the defensive line, and Tee Martin to coach receivers. Summers’ group, a solid line anchored by Billy Joe Murphy, gave up thirteen sacks in 2009, but only nine thus far this season. Turner inherited a struggling corps, coming of a 2009 season where the unit amassed just sixteen sacks in the entire season, tying for last in the league. In 2010, however, Turner’s guys have already recorded twelve. Tee Martin has two receivers in the top five of all SEC route runners. In terms of an investment, there is no real quantitative way to measure the impact of a strength coach in just one season, but the hires of Summers, Turner and Martin are paying dividends.

Kentucky broke into the top half of the SEC is passing yards just once (in 2007) under Brooks. This season, Phillips’ passing unit boasts the best passing attack in the division, and second best in the league. Much of this success is due to the maturity and development of the much-maligned Mike Hartline, who currently leads the league in gross yards and touchdowns thrown. A great deal of praise goes to Offensive Coordinator Randy Sanders, who coaches the twenty-third ranked offense in the country in points scored.

While the offense has improved under the Phillips’ administration, the defense has struggled. In a stat that can be anything but understated, the Cats have the nation’s second worst red zone defense, and rank ninety-eighth in the country in points scored against. Despite holding the #6 and #10 ranked teams in the country to six points in the second halves of the contests, the defense allowed 59 points and 581 total yards in first halves. Defensive Coordinator Steve Brown shook things up this week by starting sophomore linebacker Ridge Wilson at Mississippi State. The defense should look better as the Kentucky schedule eases up a bit; with the remainder of SEC play against a 1-4 Vanderbilt, and a 0-5 Tennessee.

In qualitative terms, the season has been disappointing. While Joker and company found a signature win over the South Carolina Gamecocks, the rest of the season has been riddled with heartbreak and frustration. Sure, the loss of Derrick Locke is a critical one, but good teams find a way to win. The Wildcats just haven’t done that against any SEC team not named Cackalacka.

In short, the long term perspective in Lexington is bright. Despite defensive struggles, Kentucky was in position to win nearly every game this season. The young secondary is improving, and the domination of Danny “The Leviathan” Trevathan is encouraging. With the return of Derrick Locke, Kentucky is in prime position to finish out the season with three convincing wins, including a much-needed victory in Knoxville.

The Kentucky football program is getting better, and this program will reach new heights with Joker Phillips. While Saturday night was a reminder that the team isn’t there yet, the body of evidence suggests that the club is on the right path. This is Joker’s program, and I’d say the ball is in pretty good hands.

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Locke Still Not Healthy, Will Not Travel To Mississippi State

University of Kentucky senior tailback Derrick Locke will not travel with the Kentucky football team to Starkville, Miss., for Kentucky’s battle with No. 23 Mississippi State on Saturday, head coach Joker Phillips announced Thursday.

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Locke Definitely Out For UK

After today’s practice session in Lexington, Joker Phillips officially ruled out Derrick Locke for Saturday’s game at Mississippi State.  The Cats’ tailback will miss his third game in a row due to a shoulder injury.

Locke is second in the SEC in rushing yards per game.  UK plays at Mississippi State this weekend.

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UK’s Locke Still Without Feeling In His Shoulder; King Avoids Major Knee Injury

Kentucky starting tailback Derrick Locke missed practice yesterday and is once again questionable for Saturday’s game at Mississippi State.  Locke was 7th in the nation in total yards when he suffered what was believed to be a stinger in UK’s game with Auburn.

After missing the last two games, Cat officials have decided Locke’s troubles are greater than a stinger.

“It is not just a stinger,” Joker Phillips said.  “He hasn’t had any feeling back in three weeks to it is a little bit more than a stinger.  I don’t have the knowledge to know all the details of it, but it is more than a stinger.  … After three weeks you have to be a little bit concerned (that it could be a long-term injury), but our medical people don’t have as much concern as myself and Derrick do.  We have to trust those guys.”

Raise your hand if you’ve ever gone to a doctor and been told not to worry about something… only to have the same issue crop back up or worsen later?

Okay, you can all put your hands down.

Losing feeling in your shoulder area for three weeks is indeed a concern.  And it’s good that Locke and Phillips are taking the situation seriously.  Football is one thing, life is another.  And it seems that Locke is getting some pretty big warning signs from his body.

Meanwhile, UK receiver La’Rod King is counting his blessings that what he thought was the “pop” of an ACL tear was actually just the sound of a knee sprain.

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