LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky football coaches Joker Phillips and Randy Sanders have received upgrades in their working titles, Coach Rich Brooks has announced.
Brooks said that Phillips, UK’s offensive coordinator, has been named head coach of the offense while Sanders will now have the title of offensive coordinator. Phillips continues as UK’s head coach in waiting when Brooks chooses to retire.
“We want to continue to recognize Joker for what he has accomplished here and reward Randy for his job well done during his three years on the staff,” Brooks said.
Phillips first took over the duties as offensive coordinator in 2005 and the Wildcats increased their total offense and scoring offense numbers in each of his first three years in that position. The 2007 offense set a school record for most points scored in a season (475) while piling up the second-most offensive yards in UK history.
Following the 2007 season, UK graduated arguably the most accomplished group of offensive players in school history – quarterback André Woodson, tailback Rafael Little, tight end Jacob Tamme and wide receivers Keenan Burton and Steve Johnson, among others. In 2008, on top of the massive graduation losses, the offense sustained season-ending injuries to the team’s top pass receiver, Dicky Lyons, the leading rusher, Derrick Locke, and the starting right guard, Jess Beets. Yet, the Wildcats still managed to generate more than 22 points per game, ranking sixth in the Southeastern Conference in scoring offense.
Sanders has played a key role in the offense as quarterbacks coach while assisting in the development in the offensive game plan. Under Sanders’ guidance, Woodson developed into one of the top QBs in Southeastern Conference history, throwing for 7,224 yards and 71 touchdowns during their two seasons together. Woodson often praised Sanders for the coach’s help in his progress as a passer, game manager and team leader.
Sanders had quite the different assignment in 2008. After his most experienced returning quarterback was dismissed from the team on the first day of preseason practice, Sanders had the task of taking two inexperienced signal-callers, sophomore Mike Hartline and true freshman Randall Cobb, and molding them into a working tandem.
Hartline led the Wildcats to six victories, earned SEC Offensive Player of the Week honors for the win over Middle Tennessee, and was named Kentucky’s Most Outstanding Offensive Player in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl win over East Carolina. Cobb was the starting quarterback in UK’s crucial road win over Mississippi State that clinched bowl eligibility for the Wildcats. He also contributed as a wide receiver and punt returner and was named to the SEC All-Freshman team.
Sanders, who had been offensive coordinator at Tennessee in the seven years prior to his arrival at Kentucky, retains his assignment as the Wildcat recruiting coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
Phillips’ and Sanders’ coaching have helped lead the Wildcats to three consecutive winning seasons, culminating in wins over Clemson and Florida State in the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl and the Liberty Bowl triumph vs. East Carolina.
The title changes will not have an impact on the day-to-day operation of the Kentucky offense. Phillips remains responsible for overseeing the game plan and making the play calls on game days.
“I thank Coach Brooks for his continued confidence in me,” Phillips said. “I’m excited to keep working closely with Randy in practice and in preparation of our game plan.”
“I’m grateful to Rich Brooks and Joker Phillips for giving me the opportunity to come to Kentucky three years ago and appreciate them giving me this title,” Sanders said. “I look forward to continue working together toward our goals of winning bowl games and SEC championships.”
Warford Returns: Paul Warford, a former starter cornerback at Kentucky, has returned to the Wildcat football team for the spring semester, Coach Rich Brooks has announced.
Warford, a junior from Richmond, Ky., will participate in spring practice and has two years of eligibility remaining.
Warford played in all 13 games, including three starts, as a true freshman in the 2006 season. He was a full-time starter during the ’07 season, totaling 41 tackles, interceptions against Arkansas and Tennessee, and was second on the team in pass breakups with nine. He was not enrolled at UK during the 2008 season, which he used as a redshirt year.