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Phillips praises play of freshman defenders and may shift Neloms back to safety to add depth

By EVAN CRANE, UK Media Relations

Kentucky coach Joker Phillips continued to praise the efforts of three true freshman cornerbacks in J.D. Harmon, Fred Tiller and Cody Quinn. All three saw action last week against Florida and played aggressive, according to Phillips. The head coach said due to the injury of safety Ashely Lowery and the play of the young corners, senior defensive back Martavius Neloms, who had been playing corner, took snaps this week at safety to provide more depth there.

“You saw a lot of young guys in the back end challenging receivers and that is the thing that stood out to me last week,” Phillips said after Thursday’s practice. “Guys like Fred Tiller, Cody Quinn and J.D. Harmon were challenging guys and that is what you want to do. Being a defensive back, you are going to get beat, that is just a matter of when and where. The thing you have to do is win your share. And the thing I saw was that those guys more won than their share of opportunities.”

Phillips has been impressed with the play of UK’s youth this season overall, especially defensively, mentioning true freshman linebackers Khalid Henderson and Pancho Thomas and redshirt freshman defensive lineman Farrington Huguenin.

“At the second level, those two young freshman linebackers (Henderson and Thomas) made some plays for us and will continue to get better,” Phillips said. “Farrington Huguenin is a freshman also that continues to get better. The thing we have to do is keep improving as much as we possibly can. That is the ideal of us getting a chance to play again this weekend to see how much we have improved each week and see how much we can improve this week especially with a young team.”

Phillips said he understands that as Kentucky improves so do the teams that make up the final eight games on the schedule. But Phillips said that thought has to be removed and the team needs to worry just about getting Kentucky better.

“This is a grown man’s league and we can improve but everybody else is improving, too, with some older guys,” Phillips said. “The thing we have to do is continue to see how much we can improve and get this football team better. They are trying to do the same thing and we have to try to match them.”

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  1. Tom

    Perhaps Coach Cassity deserves some praise for his true DBs playing decently.

  2. Fish

    Looking to hear an update of praise around 11 pm on Saturday night after SC leaves town. Florida scored 38 points, 22 1st downs, avg. of 5.6 yards per offensive play. Giving praise is an interesting statement to say the least.

  3. Tom

    Fish, I never predicted anything for Saturday night, but I guess your glass is either full or empty. BTW, I also think our WR and OL coaches deserve “some” praise for their work this season.

  4. Kevin

    I think the stats for the Florida game were pretty skewed Fish. The defense played extremely well in the first half. In the second half, they just gave up once they realized we weren’t going to be able to produce any points to help them out and that’s where the majority of Florida stats came from. We’ll see tonight I guess. I think our first string can hold their own but we don’t have a lot of depth at most positions. You can look at those numbers either way though and the team has to prove everybody wrong on the field, that’s the only way to bring back some of the fans. In fact, it may take two big SEC wins at this point to get people back just because they lost twice in the state. We would have lost to Florida either way so I hated how it went down but it probably had little effect overall.

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