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Transcript from today's time with Joker Phillips:
Both you and Missouri are winless in the SEC. What would it mean for you guys as a team to get a win now?
"It would be big for us as a young team, especially going on the road, SEC win. It would be huge for us in finishing this thing out. I think that would be big for us as we go forward."
How are the quarterbacks, especially Patrick Towles, holding up?
"He held up well. I thought he did a good job this week, moving around better than I ever would have thought. He has continued to tell us how fast of a healer he is, and he is. He looked good today, all week really, moving around, especially when you took the air cast off."
Will he or Jalen Whitlow start?
"Whitlow will start, but we'll get Patrick, or Patty Ice, in the game. We've got to get him in the game, and get him in the game early."
Josh Clemons tweeted he's going to be on the field next week. Is he returning to practice?
"No. He's not going to be. He's going to be on the field during the game. (Laughs). We can dress him and put him on the dress list. I think if you put him on the dress list he gets $15. So he's all upset we haven't dressed him. He can get $15 for a meal."
How is Zach West doing?
"He practiced a little today. We'll give him tomorrow and Saturday morning to figure out if he can play. He says he's going to play. We'll give him the start if he's ready."
Will you get all your defensive backs back this week?
"Should. They all will make the trip, OK? They all will make the trip. (Martavius) Neloms has probably practiced the least, but it wasn't as much for his hamstring. He was a little sick, a little under the weather. Mikie Benton will play. Cartier (Rice) kind of pulled up a little bit today, so we'll take a look at him. He had been practicing all week, and then today he came up gimpy a little bit. We'll take a look at him tomorrow."
How much of a comforting thing is it to at least have all those guys on the plane this time?
"Not just on the plane, on the field would help. A couple of the guys we're taking just to see in case a couple more hours gets them better. It will be good to have those guys on the field, especially Tay Neloms. Tay Neloms is the leader back there, and it would be really comforting if he's out there."
This is a new venue for you all. Does that present any sort of different challenge?
"Funny you say that. We're such a young team and a young team that's unfamiliar with this bunch, and also only three of our coaches have ever been there. We'll go by the stadium and have a little walk-through. I considered doing it once I figured out the numbers when we went on the road the first time at Florida. I considered going to the stadium, taking those young guys to the stadium then, but we fly into Ocala, which is about 40 minutes away, 35, 40 minutes, so it kind of was out of the question. Now, with us going into Columbia, we'll drive buy the stadium just to get familiar with the locker room, get familiar with the field, which sideline is ours, all of those things because it's a lot of guys who are unfamiliar with the place."
Considering you've been without your top two running backs for most of the year, how do you think the other guys have filled in?
"First of all, the run game starts up front, and those guys have done an outstanding job. We just have not been able to stick with the run as long as we would have liked to. Jonathan George, I'm really pleased with the way he has ran the ball. Then the change up has been Raymond Sanders. I keep saying this, the other guy (Dyshawn Mobley), we've got to get him in the game. I hate to keep saying it, but coach (Steve) Pardue has been instructed for sure: get him in the game. We have a different plan than we had last week. We'll see if we can get him four, five, six snaps, carries, not snaps. He needs to get carries because he's such a talented guy. He's got a great attitude and is playing really well for us on special teams."
Do you see any situation where you would shift quarterbacks on different plays?
"When we first start, actually the Mississippi State game when we were trying to figure out Jalen's and Patrick's packages, we considered that. We thought we could possibly do that. Now, they both now about the same, so we'll give them series instead of plays now."
Is developing all these different player-specific packages the most unusual thing you've had to go through as a player or coordinator, head coach?
"We've had to do it since we've been here. We've been here since '03. It seems like every other year at least. Andre' (Woodson) was a guy who started for us for three years, so we kept adding to his packages. The other ones, (Mike) Hartline had a couple years and a really good senior year. Then his junior year we have to change gears when he got hurt. It's been like that since his senior year, that we've had to really change gears every year. Unusual you could say, but that's football. That's football. You have to make changes. That's the thing about coaching, you've got to be able to adjust.
"We try to talk to our kids too: the biggest thing in football is being able to adjust. This week is a perfect example. Missouri has had an open date, we may have to adjust to a new offense. If you saw what we did last year in just three days, there's a lot a team can do in two weeks. We're going to have to adjust to that, the same with special teams and on defense."
When you have an open date (Missouri had one last week), is it more beneficial in getting your team better or preparing for your next opponent?
"I always think the first couple practices are trying to get your team better, better fundamentally, better scheme wise, continue to keep them in football shape. The second week is now teaching the different schemes that the other team is playing. It definitely helps. Our open date is not until the end of the year. We could have used one maybe in week four. That's not the case. We'll take advantage of ours in a couple weeks."
Does the 3-4 system you run put more pressure on hybrid positions against the spread offense?
"Miles Simpson is a slash linebacker, slash safety. There's a lot more pressure on him to be able to cover down on receivers, but also what it gives you -- and same with Bud Dupree when he's the hybrid guy at the linebacker. He plays inside moest of the time, but when he goes to the hybrid or he or Taylor Wyndham -- the thing it allows you to do is have those guys cover down, but it also allows you to bring a lot of your blitzes from distance. If Miles was a linebacker, you would have to cheat your blitzes to allow him get there. With Winston (Guy), the position he played, Winston could disguise it, hold it as long as he possible had to, because he could get there as the ball was snapped. That's the thing you get when you're playing a lot of these hybrid guys. You're able to disguise blitzes a little bit longer."
La'Rod King talked about the difficulties of working with two or three different quarterbacks. How do you talk them through those challenges, and is it difficult for an offense, even the veterans?
"The thing that's been difficult for those guys out wide is you have to change gears in how we're playing now. We were a team that was throwing the ball 45, 50 times a game, and now we might be lucky if we throw it 25. That's the difficult part in convincing those guys to continue to play hard and show up to practice. They've done an outstanding job of that.
"We've been limited is how many we're playing now because of that. We were playing…The day of the game I would go around the room and ask our staff, 'Who are you going to play? Who's going to play?' It used to be 'all eight of them now, all eight of them.' Now it's about six of them will play, six or seven. We'll try to get those young guys in as much as we possibly can. You don't need them as much because we're not throwing the ball and running down hill as much. I don't think it's difficult to play with different quarterbacks. You just catch the ball as they're coming to you. As an old receiver, that's all I tried to do. That's the thing we try to convince to these guys."
I wonder if Towles and Whitlow will ever be in the game at the same time? I feel that Whitlow's future is not as a full time QB.
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