LEXINGTON, Ky. – Looking for improved offensive efficiency as preseason practices continue, Coach Joker Phillips seemed to be pleased with what he saw as the Kentucky football team had its second full scrimmage Saturday morning at Commonwealth Stadium.
“Very, very competitive scrimmage,” Phillips said. “Had some huge plays, some good things out of some of these young guys. Lot of good things in the run game, lot of good things in the pass game. Defense bowed their neck and stopped them when they needed to.
“Lot of positives out of the scrimmage. Quarterbacks didn’t turn ball over, operated for the most part with efficiency. I’m looking forward to watching this tape.”
Phillips said one of the positives was a 98-yard touchdown drive that was mostly runs and featured a solid job by the offensive line and backs.
“(We) talked about drives yesterday,” Phillips said. “We put the ball on the two-yard line – defense has to get itself off the field, offense has to get a first down so it has a chance to operate after that – and our offense took it 98 yards. That was a positive thing, 98 yards, 14 plays. That is hard to do. There weren’t any huge plays in it but we had some consistency. There were no penalties, no turnovers, no sacks, no negative yardage plays. That’s a good teaching point for us tomorrow. I’m excited to get that on film. That’s going to help us defensively and offensively.
“All of them (running backs) did well playing behind their pads. When you rush the ball 98 yards, you’ve had some powerful runs by your backs. Fourteen plays, wasn’t any big plays, grinding it out, first down after first down after first down. All of the backs played well. Those two young freshmen (Dyshawn Mobley and Justin Taylor) have a chance to be special. We have to play them all because we know how physical it is in this league and the schedule.”
Having indicated that he was pleased with the play of the quarterbacks, the coach said that he could be “coming out of this thing with some type of decision (about a starter) hopefully tomorrow,” but more evaluation could be necessary.
“We have to make sure we take a look at this and be fair to everybody involved,” Phillips said. “It’s hard to say now that we have a decision, we’ve already come up with a decision. To be fair to this football team and to the guys involved, we have to go watch the film. Sometimes (when) you’re out here with the naked eye, it’s hard to evaluate.”
Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Randy Sanders also was asked his thoughts on the position.
“I thought they (the quarterbacks) are progressing as they should progress,” Sanders said. “Usually you make a lot of improvement, especially at quarterback, from the first scrimmage to the second. I’m not watching how they drop (back to pass), I’m trying to watch downfield to see what they’re seeing and for the most part the ball was coming out to who it should have been coming out to, when it should have been coming out of their hand, so that tells me that their drops are pretty good, their eyes are in the right place.
“The one thing we are doing as a group right now, pretty much, is throwing the ball accurately. Most of time they’re throwing the ball where they want to, which usually correlates back to your fundamentals. If your fundamentals are good, it’s a lot easier to be consistent.”
Looking at the scrimmage overall, Phillips said the intensity of the team’s work continues to please him through the first two weeks of practice.
“There are guys competing for jobs,” Phillips said. “You have to play this game like you’re competing for jobs. We have guys doing that. Again, the last game we played here (the win over Tennessee) has given us a lot to teach off of – how important all three phases are. You have guys wanting to be on special teams … begging to be on special teams. We have some special returners that guys want to make blocks for.”
Now two weeks away from the season opener at Louisville, Phillips said that Saturday’s work was the final full scrimmage, although there will be a special teams scrimmage and also a situational scrimmage in the coming week.
“What we have in these 16 practices gives us a chance to start figuring out who’s going to make the bus (for the Louisville game),” Phillips said. “It’s time for us to start cutting down and start getting ready for the game. We’ll have two more training camp type practices (Monday and Tuesday) and we’ll start working on Louisville (game plan) Thursday.”