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Vanderbilt Commodores @ Kentucky Wildcats: Open Game Thread

Kentucky
Content provided by A Sea Of Blue.

The Vanderbilt Commodores invade Commonwealth Stadium today to try to pick up their third win of the season against the Kentucky Wildcats.  Game particulars are as follows, courtesy of UKAthletics.com:

Vanderbilt @ Kentucky
Game Notes UK Notes Get Acrobat Reader | UK Depth Chart Get Acrobat Reader
VU Notes Get Acrobat Reader
Date & Time Saturday, Nov. 13
12:21 p.m
Coverage TV: SEC Network
Radio: BBSN
Online Audio listen
GameTracker
Online Video via ESPN
Location Commonwealth Stadium
Lexington, Ky.
Gameday Information

For an analysis of this game, please be sure to read Ken’s excellent pre-game here.  For the Vanderbilt Commodores’ view of the game, be sure to visit the excellent SBN Vanderbilt blog, Anchor of Gold.

It goes without saying that 5-5 Kentucky needs this game.  It needs it to go back to having a winning record, and to become theoretically bowl eligible.  This is an absolute must-win for Kentucky, and if they fail on this one, the season is likely to be considered a failure.

That’s a lot of pressure to be under, but Kentucky brought it on themselves.  They failed to take advantage of three excellent chances to win SEC football games, and currently are holding out one measly SEC win sporting the weakest strength of schedule in the conference.

I confess, I have lost all hope for the defense.  The best thing about this game is that Vanderbilt is last in the SEC in scoring offense, 10th in rushing offense, and again dead last in passing offense.  If Kentucky’s defense can’t keep this team from scoring 20+ points, they don’t deserve a bowl trip.

On the other hand, and much more encouragingly, this Kentucky offense is very strong.  With the presumed availability of Derrick Locke for the first time in four games, the offense will be at full speed for the first time in a long time.  Raymond Sanders has also been upgraded to probable, but with Donald Russell and CoShik Williams turning in strong performances over the last couple of weeks, he may not get that many reps today.

Vanderbilt simply doesn’t have the offensive horsepower to outscore the Wildcats, and defending the run is something that Vandy does even worse than UK, if you can imagine that, although to be fair to our opponents, they do play a much tougher schedule.  What this translates to is that the Wildcats should be able to run all over the ‘Dores, and the biggest weapon the Commodores will have against Kentucky is UK’s own propensity to beat themselves with untimely turnovers in the red zone and drive-killing penalties.  If the offense executes well, Vanderbilt should not be able to score enough points to win unless the Kentucky defense refuses to take the field.

This is a big game, and even if UK is a favorite, I admit to a few butterflies.  We need this to keep our non-losing season streak alive, and potentially our (admittedly minor) bowl streak alive.  I know I have been a little less than totally positive, but after the way Kentucky played last game, I am not comfortable with this team even against Vanderbilt.  A well-played game could go a long way to restore my confidence.

Go ‘Cats.


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Transcript of Joker Phillips’ post-game presser

Kentucky
Content provided by John Clay’s Sidelines.

As provided by UK Athletics:

November 6, 2010

An interview with:

COACH PHILLIPS

COACH PHILLIPS: Injury situation, Ronnie Sneed has a stinger in his shoulder, and wasn’t able to finish the game. He came out in the first quarter. Josh Gibbs had a hip flexor and he also did not finish after the first. Nick (Mellilo) went in and covered one kick, couldn’t finish. (Martavius) Neloms got his ankle stepped on, and he came out in the fourth quarter. And Donald Russell got rolled up and hurt his back in the second quarter. So that’s the injuries, so all of them should be back next week.

But one of the things we talked about is playing clean. We did not play clean. In the first half we changed one of our plans to win, and we turned the ball over on downs. That’s considered a turnover, and that’s my fault. That’s me being selfish, it was.

Probably should have kicked the ball and played field position, but that’s a sudden change. It’s like a turnover and two plays later they’re in the end zone. We’ve got to do a better job when we do turn it over.

I was just informed that we have turned the ball over and thrown an interception in the end zone three times in the last two weeks. So we can’t do that. They go back down the field with that sudden change and go 80 yards, that can’t happen.

The time of possession was 40 to 20 and you look at that first and you think no, it can’t be. But at halftime it was 20 10, something like that almost 20 10, correct? And we gave up a couple of big plays on defense, and the offense turned the ball over two times. Can’t do it, you cannot do it and survive in this league.

The thing you can’t do is you can’t go three weeks without creating turnovers on defense, and we have not created a turnover. Our offense created one but it was after a turnover last week. So we’ve got to play a lot cleaner to win next week. Any questions?

Q. Was it hard to get them fired up and ready this week?

COACH PHILLIPS: You know, I didn’t think it was hard to get them ready because our guys were ready, I thought they were raring to go. We had really good practices.

You start thinking the weather changes, you start thinking well, it’s going to be hard to get them going today. It wasn’t. I told you guys after practice I thought our guys played in practice really well. The attitude was good. There was a lot of enthusiasm. So I felt we were ready to go.

Then you kickoff, usually you can judge this football team how their kickoff team covers kicks, and our first kickoff our guys ran down like their hair was on fire. That told me that our football team was ready to play.

We gave up a couple of big plays, and then offensively we don’t get the fourth down. Then they converted, and I think that kind of took the wind out of our sail a little bit. But we battled back.

The thing is we didn’t play clean. We didn’t play fast at times but we won the football game.

Q. What did you think of Donald Russell’s performance?

COACH PHILLIPS: He played good. He got the ball in the end zone. He made some big time runs. Both backs made some runs and they missed some runs, but he did what he had to do in this game. That is to hang on to the football and possess the ball at the end of each run and get positive yards.

Q. Your decision or (Derrick) Locke’s decision not to play?

COACH PHILLIPS: His decision. If he can play, he’ll play. He just didn’t feel like he could protect the football and also protect himself. Locke really wants to play, but Locke really doesn’t want to hurt this football team also.

Q. Can you assess the overall performance of the defense today and how you felt they played?

COACH PHILLIPS: We’ve got to make sure that we don’t give up as many big plays. This football team that we just played put out a lot of trick plays on us. The thing we have to do is make sure if it’s man to man coverage, stay on your guy.

They ran a sprint out throw back that it looks like a run, yes, it does. But your job is not to stop the run. Your job is to cover your man all over the field, regardless of what happens until the ball crosses the line of scrimmage.

We gave up the big play on that. We gave up a couple big runs with the quarterback. But they got stops when we needed them, that’s the thing. They got stops when we needed them. But I think we’ve got to do a better job of creating turnovers, and we haven’t created one in the last three weeks.

Q. That was the first snap ever recorded by (CSU) quarterback (Malcolm Dixon).

COACH PHILLIPS: I never saw that. I had to check the roster to see. I mean, he had never lined up at quarterback that we had seen. He obviously was in the game to run the football, and he’s a good athlete, and he did a good job of running their offense. It was really their wildcat package really is what it was.

It was something that we had seen because we had seen it in practice every day, and that is their Wildcat package.

Q. Are you pleased with where you are?

COACH PHILLIPS: Hey, I’m .500. Yes, I’m pleased. We’re 5 and 5, with two games left. A home game next week in our league, and senior day for guys. You know, about 16 guys that have been around here for a long time. Some that haven’t been around here for a long time, it will be an emotional week for those guys, and we’ll try to feed off of that.

Q. You said you need to get some momentum. Is this the kind of win you need?

COACH PHILLIPS: This is what we’re talking about. We need this momentum, we need this feeling. We’ve been in this locker room for five out of the last six weeks that we haven’t had this feeling.

So I think this is the momentum that we need to carry us through the rest of the season.

Q. Were you planning on splitting the reps at running back with (Donald) Russell and (CoShik) Williams?

COACH PHILLIPS: Yeah, that’s what we had planned to do to play both of those guys. We were going to go two and one, one series, two series. But once Donald got rolled up from behind on the kickoff return, we decided to give them split reps or split series.

I thought both of them did a good job of getting the ball in the end zone and taking care of the ball first of all, and getting the ball in the end zone.

Q. Did you play the backups as much as you wanted to?

COACH PHILLIPS: No, you never play them as much as you want to. I would have liked to have seen everybody get in the game. I would have liked to have played a little bit more. Liked to have gotten a chance to get (back-up QB Ryan Mossakowski) in the game, but we weren’t able to.

Q. Is it too early to say whether (Derrick) Locke and (Raymond) Sanders will be back?

COACH PHILLIPS: It’s way too early. We’ll have to see tomorrow. Again, both of those guys will be day to day. We’ll see tomorrow if they can give us anything. Then just throughout the week, the same deal. It’s been like that for about two weeks with Locke, so we’ll see.

Q. Was there ever a time that you looked at the scoreboard in second quarter in a tie game and thought it would like an Appalachian State game?

COACH PHILLIPS: Yeah, definitely. You know, you felt like you had control, but you didn’t have control. But when you look at the scoreboard it didn’t say it.

We felt like just get a stop here and there, don’t turn the ball over. We felt like we could score points. But, yeah, it was a time to look up at the scoreboard and say that.

Q. Did you get momentum because you played well or just a matter that you won?

COACH PHILLIPS: Both, both. We played a lot better longer. But also the fact that you won, I think can you get a lot of things corrected in a different way with the win.

Q. Can you talk about Danny Trevathan what continues to impress you with his play?

COACH PHILLIPS: The speed. You very seldom see Danny Trevathan. What is frustrating is when we’re in position to make plays and you don’t make plays. That is the frustrating part of battles on defense, you know.

When Danny is in position to make plays, he makes the play. He runs his feet, he runs through people, not to people, first of all. Then when you see Danny hit people, they go backwards.

A lot of it has to do with the way he runs. He’s one of our faster guys on defense, and a really smart football player.

Last week we were getting some of the other guys a lot of reps because he was a little beat up, and just watching him on the sideline talking to our young linebackers about their assignments. That tells me that it allows Danny to play as fast as he’s playing, he knows what is going on. He knows everything that’s going on with this defense. So it allows him to play faster than a lot of our other guys.

Q. Seems like Craig McIntosh does a good job angling the direction of his kickoffs. How has that helped the kickoff coverage?

COACH PHILLIPS: Yeah, it does help. We wanted to see this. We challenged our kickoff coverage team also. We’ve gotten really excited about how E.J. Fields covered last week, so we moved E.J. actually went in and covered in the position that Matt Roark had been in.

And Matt Roark has been a beast on the kickoff coverage team, so it allowed us to move someone else off the team that we weren’t covering as well. Put E.J. Fields back in there and insert Matt Roark. We thought that Brian Adams was playing good on that same team.

So the thing we wanted to do is keep the ball in play. I wasn’t interested in kicking the ball in the end zone; I wanted to see these guys covered. Because that sets the tempo and that shows the attitude of the football team in how you cover kickoffs, and I wanted to see those guys cover. I thought they did an outstanding job.

Each guy on our sidelines was picking out a guy who they thought was going to make the play and telling the other guy. Hey, I’ve got Matt Roark this time or I’ve got Brian Adams.

So we wanted to challenge our kickoff cover team, and they did. They covered outstanding which I think tells us the attitude of your football team.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports

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Russell to Start at Tailback Against Charleston Southern

Sophomore tailback Donald Russell will get his third start of the season when the University of Kentucky football team takes on the Charleston Southern Buccaneers at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. ET.
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Donald Russell’s mother talks to the media

Kentucky
Content provided by John Clay’s Sidelines.

Donald Russell

Donald Russell

After making a post to a message board, Donald Russell’s mother has opened up to a member of the media.

Tanya Russell talked to Larry Vaught of the Danville Advocate-Messenger about her unhappiness that her son, a running back at UK, did not get more of a shot during the Cats’ 24-17 loss at Mississippi State.

Excerpt:

She was also disappointed that she didn’t see any coaches console or encourage her son after his fumble or during the Mississippi State game.

“Nobody came when he was there with his head down,” Tanya Russell said. “Joker has the right not to put him in. This is Joker’s team. This is his team. I support that and understand that. We are proud of him and respect him. But for them to do what they did to Donald at Mississippi State was shocking. He was in the right mind frame to really play, and he never really got a chance.”

After carrying the football 18 times for 41 yards and catching seven passes for 70 yards in the win over South Carolina, Russell has carried the ball just eight times over the last two games. He had just one carry for four yards at Mississippi State.

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Locke out vs. MSU

Kentucky
Content provided by Chip Cosby on UK football.

The University of Kentucky offense will be without tailback Derrick Locke for the third straight game. Coach Joker Phillips said on Thursday that Locke would not make the trip for the Mississippi State game due to a lingering shoulder injury. True freshman Raymond Sanders will start in Locke’s place, with sophomore Donald Russell backing him up.

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