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KENTUCKY COACH JOKER PHILLIPS

September 27, 2012
By Michael McGraw of INDIANA SPORTS PAGE



Our injured situation here: I'll give you some doubtfuls and some questionables. Cobble is doubtful. Correll, Forrest, Aumiller. Questionable: CoShik; Kevin Mitchell; Maxwell Smith, be day-to-day. We'll make a decision (later in the week). Lowery and Cartier Rice.

Got another tough opponent. Number six team in the country. Defensively, third in our conference in defense, rushing defense giving up 67 yards a game; fourth in total defense, second in sacks, second in scoring defense, less than ten points a game and Clowney leads them with four-and-a-half sacks this year.

And talk about Clowney, I think one of the things the NCAA should do is issue every team two of those type of guys, to make everything even. I would like to have Clowney and Taylor is what they should issue everybody. (laughs) Offensively, passing, they're fourth in the league at 259 yards. Lattimore is averaging 4.6, one of the best running backs in the country. And Shaw has completed 76 percent of his passes, including 20 of those (in a row) last week. So gotta get pressure on him and gotta make sure we challenge the receiver.

Special forces: Ace Sanders is one of the most dangerous guys I've ever seen in punt returns. They haven't had a lot of kickoff return opportunities, and they're one of the least penalized teams in our conference. They overtook us. Last week we had seven, and we were one of the least penalized teams; and now we are second behind South Carolina.

So another huge challenge for us. Got them at home. We're excited to be back home in front of our fans. Questions?

When do you anticipate you'll be able to make a decision on Max? Again, day to day. He’s a lot further along on Sunday than he was last Sunday, obviously. A lot of it had to do with us not playing him this week. We would have had some risks in playing him, so we decided not to (play him) to give us a chance to make a decision for this week.

A lot of people said last year Peyton Manning might be the MVP because of just how valuable he proved to be when he was out, how much the team struggled without him. Did you see a little bit of that Saturday? We did. We saw some of that with Max, but we expect the next guy to go in and get it done. We just didn't. Max is very valuable.

Anytime you lose your starting quarterback, he's your starting quarterback for a reason. He's not the starting quarterback because he (undecipherable) quarterback. He's starting quarterback because he's your best quarterback.

And we've had to make decisions on who our starting quarterback is at the start of the season three seasons, and every year we started it was the right decision. And it was the right decision with Max. He's our starter, and you lose your starter, you do lose a valuable person in your offense.

Will you rethink how you will prep your No. 2 quarterback this week because Max may not be able to go versus last week? We've been prepping Jalen to be our Number 2 since the Louisville game. We worked Morgan to be the Number 2 going up to the Louisville game, but after the Louisville game we started prepping Jalen to be our Number 2. When Max went down, we just felt like he (Jalen) wasn't ready, wasn't quite ready to go in in that type of environment.

I've been down there when we put a freshman quarterback in there, and it's pretty tough. And we just felt like we wanted to start Morgan. And we did. Didn't work out. Didn't play as well as we would have liked. But we still think that that was the right decision.

If the game was at Commonwealth, would Jalen have started? Who knows. Again, still – this is not just the environment. It's the team that you're playing against also. It's a really good football team defensively. So who knows.

Did you just feel like you had one hand tied behind your back in that game? No. I mean I didn't feel that way. I just feel like we just couldn't make a play. All we needed was a play here, play there. We had a couple of guys running open. We also missed some cuts, missed some blocks on the perimeter that would have given us a chance after we did catch the ball. But I don't feel like we had our hands tied behind our back.

Did you rethink at all Patrick Towles as one of the starters? You know, I'm comfortable with where we're at, because I think we'll get Max back. That's our feeling, that we'll get Max back.

Again, we decided to allow Jalen to be our third, and we really think that Pat Towles will be a really good quarterback in time, and we just think that this is the best thing for him and for our program at this point.

What's the diagnosis on Max's shoulder? He just reaggravated an old injury from last year. So it was a deal where if he'd gotten hurt – if you'd have seen him in warmups, he wasn't 100 percent and if he'd have gotten hurt, they think he could have been out for a significant time, and it wasn't worth risking. It wasn't worth risking, like I said on Saturday. I was treating him like he was – you guys would want your son to be treated.

What exactly was the old injury that he re-aggravated? His shoulder. He had a sprained shoulder, AC joint from last year.


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