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Record: 6210 (3/13/2012)

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**FOOTBALL PRACTICE NOTES (Thu., Nov. 1)**

  • ###DT Donte Rumph is the only player who was up in the air this week who isn't likely to play (he has not practiced this week), which means Kentucky is the healthiest it has been for a SEC game this season according to Joker Phillips. The secondary should be in much better shape with Neloms and Benton back as well. Interestingly, Phillips noted that UK has basically started a true freshman QB in each of its last 12 (counting this week) SEC games. It's actually 10 since Matt Roark started the Tennessee game, but I get what his point was.

    "This would be considered healthy," Phillips said. "Our last 12 SEC games we've played if you take out nine plays Morgan played last year in the Mississippi State game and two plays that Max played this year in the South Carolina game we've started a true freshman quarterback in 11 of them. Morgan starting in the Florida game with a bad shoulder and didn't know he was starting until warmups. It means you're 1-8, that's what it typically means. We're 1-8. The guys are doing a great job but again, your margin for error is really small when you're playing with a true freshman quarterback."

    ###I asked Phillips what Matt Smith and Larry Warford have meant to the younger players on that offensive line:

    "Those guys have meant the world to those (young guys)," Phillips said. "We started the season with two returning starters and not a lot of experience up front and that's probably been one of our most consistent groups. The last few weeks after the games I've pulled a few plays to talk about the type of effort that we're seeing and those guys have been in a lot of those plays, especially Larry. Larry is a really good football player and I think it's rubbed off on some of those other guys up front. They are wanting to get on that reel also and all of them have been on it at some time or another. Zach West is a guy that's been banged up but he doesn't want to come out, he wants to be with his guys."

    Phillips said both guys will get shots at the NFL but Warford is clearly the player NFL scouts talk about most when they take in a UK practice:

    "Larry is the first guy – there are a couple of other guys also – but Larry is the first guy everybody talks about," Phillips said. "He's a guy that's projected as a high pick, one of the top two guards in country and he's playing like it. He's played outstanding. He played against two of the best interior defensive linemen (in the country) the last two weeks and Larry has done really well against them. We run behind him."

    ###Phillips said the fumbling issues from last week at Missouri have not continued into this week. The staff was just as puzzled about those problems as everyone else. Kentucky had not lost a fumble since losing two in the opener against Louisville:

    "No, but there is not a lot of hitting though," Phillips said. "That had not been an issue since the first game of the season. We had not put the ball on the ground, but it showed up Saturday and when you put the ball on the ground on the road in an SEC environment it usually equals disaster and that's what it was."

    ###Asked if they had finalized their QB plan for this week or if they planned to use more of a feel approach to Jalen Whitlow/Patrick Towles' playing time, Phillips said some of that would be determined today: "Thursday is when we sit down and try to come up with a plan to play the backups and we'll go in here and talk about it today and figure out exactly when we want to play him," Phillips said. "In (Towles') series we had a 3rd-and-1 and we had been running the ball fairly well and we get a false start and now it's 3rd-and-6. You say putting (Towles) in changed the momentum but to me you get a 5-yard penalty, that changes the momentum. That's a mental mistake you can't have. Those type of penalties hurt your momentum."

    ###I asked Phillips if Whitlow and Towles understand enough of what they're seeing from defenses and the UK offense to take more shots or gambles on offense instead of playing it mostly close to the vest: "Coverages have been an issue and we've played against some pretty veteran secondaries that are doing a good job of disguising things," Phillips said. "Teams are saying just keep them in front of you also and not give up an big plays. That's the thing we're seeing so you're not getting people over the top. They're just keeping everything in front and not allowing us to get big plays."

    ###Asked about DL Alvin Davis' play against Mizzou, Phillips had this to say: "Alvin is a guy that's always given us great effort. He strains to the ball. He'll play a little more this week with Rumph being down right now so we're looking forward to watching him. He's a guy that knows what to do and always gives you good effort. He's not as big as you want inside but is a real strong guy and gives you good effort."

  • Is it safe to say that Whitlow will be the wildcat guy next season regardless of this year now? And if its safe to say that....why is Towles not playing 90% of the snaps at qb now that he is somewhat healthy...?

  • Don't really know but Whitlow appears to be too one dimensional to be an every down QB. Against Missouri, there were times that the Missouri defense had 10 guys within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage when Whitlow was on the field. The threat of a vertical pass was just not there. Even though there is a place for his style at QB, he is not one to get the majority of the snaps. I would believe Towles or Smith is more likely the better option at QB in the future.

  • ^I agree. I see no reason to continue to rotate them in equally when it is pretty clear (to me, anyway) that Whitlow isn't the QB of the future as he is not the type of QB you voluntarily play for an entire game and expect to win in the SEC. He is more of a situational guy (e.g. Wildcat QB) who has just enough passing skills to not be 100% one-dimentional when he is in the game as he would be a decent passing threat as well.

    All of that being said, we'll see this weekend just how healthy Towles really is. It could be that they don't want to keep him in there the entire game out of fear that his ankle won't hold up to that much. If/once he is healthy enough to sustain the pounding and is mobile enough to move around, he should be "the guy" with Whitlow subbing in as a situational guy like we did with Cobb for his last couple of years. On the off chance that Joker is brought back, I REALLY don't like the idea of him making this a 3-horse QB battle in the offseason. They should groom Whitlow to play the old "Randall Cobb role" (not saying he will be as good at it, just that he is probably our best option at doing something similar, which is very valuable) and let Smith and Towles duke it out at QB.

    All of this is just my opinion, though.

  • Not as successful as Cobb...but Whitlow seems to be following the same path Cobb did in the beginning...I think its tough to say anyone will be as good as Cobb was...but Whitlow will be really good in that role also.

  • He can fill that role, but there will never be another Randall Cobb type player who can just carry the team on his back and do everything like Cobb could. Run, pass, catch, return punts and kicks.

  • I agree we MOST LIKELY won't see another player like that at UK (at least not for a VERY long time), but the good thing is he doesn't have to be as good or as versatile as Cobb was in order to do absolutely great things for us and help make the team better. I often wonder if we the fans, as well as the coaching staff, maybe got a bit spoiled with Cobb and now no one will ever be able to play the Wildcat position to a satisfactory level.

  • I know Cobb was great and when he was here the wildcat worked great, but what is the fascination with that formation? I wish we got back to throwing the football and if the quarterback out there can't throw it then put him at a new position. I'm not a huge fan of the wildcat and wish that we never run it again. You all are right that we probably will not see another athlete like Cobb so maybe we should get a coach that can win without running the wildcat. Love the name but hate the formation lol #WEAREUK

  • I don't believe anyone is saying we should run the Wildcat as a primary offensive scheme throughout games, but as a situational scheme, it is fantastic. The reason it is so popular in both college and the NFL over the last 5 years is because of the matchups it creates and how it creates a hat-on-hat situation across the field. In the Wildcat, you don't give the defense the ability to have a 1-player advantage like they do in most every other formation where there is no one covering the QB man-to-man. In the Wildcat, you force a defender to cover the Wildcat QB instead of having a LB or Safety floating. Its a numbers game, and tends to give the offense the advantage any time you can force the D to defend everyone on the field as it creates more open space.

    The key is being able to run it with a player who is in your base offense, such as Cobb (WR) or one of your RB's. That way, you can come out of the huddle and go straight into the Wildcat from time to time without giving it away by bringing your Wildcat QB in off the sideline. If all Whitlow does is run the Wildcat, it will not likely ever work on a consistent basis. Sure, he will make some good plays in it here and there, but for it to TRULY work at a high success rate, the guy running it needs to be one of your regular players on the field. That is why I said we need to start training Whitlow as a WR and in running the Wildcat, which is primarily about making one read and going on instinct and athleticism from there.

  • You obviously know WAAAAY more than I do about the game in depth. I guess for me it is more about getting back to the basics, because its apparent that an athlete such as Cobb for UK comes once in a life time. And I personal haven't seen much success out of that formation, since Cobb, other than the Tennessee game when Roark ran it. And maybe it's just the coach doesn't know how to run it and that's way it isn't effective...

  • Never and forever is a long time folks.
    #IBeleiveInBlue

  • agree that he will NEVER be able to be the same player as Cobb or be as effective, but I agree that he could fill that role that Cobb did. Whitlow has a role on this team, we just have to figure out what it is, and using him like Cobb could be the best way. Put him in the gun, split him out. Change formations, keep teams on their toes. But yes, we got spoiled because no one could have ran that position better than Cobb, the numbers he put up speak for themselves.

  • Well, just think about your average handoff play. A lot of people say, "Well, hell...what is the difference in handing it off to a RB and running the Wildcat?" In any routine running play where your QB hands it off to the RB, the second he hands it off you are playing 10 vs. 11. The QB is a non-factor and no one is watching him unless it is some sort of toss to the RB where the QB may sneak out the backside for a pass back to him (see the WKU game-winning score). Otherwise, he is irrelevant once he hands it off. In the Wildcat, the guy taking the snap has to be accounted for from snap to whistle, so you suddenly have 11 vs. 11, which makes it easier on the blockers and creates more open space on the field. There is a reason nearly every team in college (and most NFL teams) has it in their playbook. The only difference is some teams rely on it heavily (e.g. us when Cobb was around, Meyer's teams at UF with Tebow, Arkansas when they ran it a TON with McFadden/Jones, and several others).

  • But you keep referring to GREAT athletes of which we don't get. We do not get great athletes very often, we get good athletes not great. We need to figure out how to get back to the Couch, Bonner and Lorenzen* days, without the cheating :). So if asked I would say go get some offense because we know we can win with that. I wanna watch a coach that scores!!! #WEAREUK

  • No, if you read where I mentioned those greate athletes (Cobb, Tebow and McFadden/Jones), it was mentioning them as the rare exception where a team relies heavily on the Wildcat. The rest of my posts have been saying we do NOT need to rely heavily on it, but that it needs to moreso be a formation that it is in our playbook (and used several times per game, at most) as opposed to a scheme/system that dictates our offense. If we can get over the "But, but, but we'll never be lucky enough to get another Randall Cobb" mentality and realize that it doesn't require an elite NFL-caliber player to run the Wildcat, we could (and should) be able to run it with some success.

  • Whitlow has looked the most comfortable, relaxed, and fluid in the QB position ever since Max went down. Towles will have his day in the sun, but right now Whitlow looks like our most prepared guy at QB. I just wish our players could have grown up a little before being throw in the game do to necessity. Many fans have commented we look like a HS team playing in the SEC. Well we damn near are!