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By LARRY VAUGHT

Joker Phillips admits his team is not where he would like it to be record-wise — “we would like to be undefeated like anybody else” — but the first-year Kentucky coach says his team can still gain momentum for the program by winning the next two games.

Kentucky (5-5) hosts Vanderbilt this Saturday and then closes the season at Tennessee Nov. 27.

“We have a lot of things we were able to learn,” said Phillips Sunday. “There are a lot of things we have learned about this football team. One is we have not started fast and the other one is that this team will continue to fight. To finish strong would mean a lot to this program in general. If we can take care of business and finish the way we expect to finish, we can gain momentum for the offseason.”

Phillips has continually said he’s seen no finger pointing from his players even though the Cats are only 1-5 in Southeastern Conference play. He wouldn’t point any fingers, either, Sunday when asked to evaluate his defensive line play after the Cats allowed Charleston Southern to rush for 140 yards or score three times.

“Just the defense in general. We can’t give up big plays. We have to keep people in front of us and make them continue to snap the ball. That does not mean a bend and not break defense. We want people to have to drive on us if they are going to score on us,” Phillips said.

“But it’s not just our defense, it is our whole defense. When one goes, the other has to come with it. Everybody has responsibility — d-line, linebacker, safety, corner. Everybody has to be on point.

“I am not satisfied with the way we have played on defense period. Not just the line. I don’t think we have played the way any of us would have liked, including those guys. Same on offense. We have not played to my liking on offense, especially with our turnovers.”

Kentucky had two turnovers against Charleston Southern — an interception in the end zone and a fumble by tight end Jordan Aumiller after a 15-yard play

“It is carelessness,” Phillips said when asked about UK’s recent turnover woes. “The interception, the guy made a great play. Fumbles are carelessness, especially the type fumble we had. I saw it out right before it happened. We can’t be that careless with the ball.”

Vanderbilt comes into the game off a 55-14 loss to Florida, its fourth straight loss, and fell to 2-7 overall and 1-5 in SEC play. The Commodores had two punts blocked, bobbled four kickoffs and misfired on a fake field goal in the first half. They have been outscored 168-35 in their losing skid. Vandy lost starting running back Warren Norman for the season with a dislocated right wrist two weeks ago and backup Zac Stacy was knocked out of the Florida game in the second quarter with a possible concussion.

Phillips said offensive coordinator Randy Sanders had good things to say about Vandy’s defense Sunday.

“He said in looking at it, you would have never though that they were that far behind,” Phillips said. “He said those guys were playing well on defense. He thought those guys were getting after people. We have to match their intensity. They come up here every year and play their hearts out against us.”

7 Responses to Phillips won’t point fingers, either

  • Andy P. says:

    Joker certainly shouldn’t point any fingers at his coaching staff during the season. Let’s dance with the girl we brought. Of course, once the season ends, there will be an abundance of finger pointing, perhaps by Joker, and if not, at Joker to the max.

    This team has serious fundemental problems on defense and Joker is either going to address them or catch unmitigated hell from the fanbase.

  • larryvaught says:

    Amen Andy. Amen Andy

  • oldblackhightops says:

    Just imagine what it would be like without Trevathan!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • ClassyCatFan says:

    I hear ya Andy! And while we can all acknowledge that there was a significant drop off in talent on defense this year, that cannot be used as an excuse 10 games into the season when defenders are consistently out of position, get no pressure on the quarterback, and do not know how to tackle.

    I don’t care how young these guys are, the defensive schemes should not put them in a position where they are watching the QB smoke a cigarette or eat a hot dog in the backfield before he throws the football.

    The finger pointing in the case of the defense must be aimed at the coaches.

    If I were Joker I would also point some fingers at IMG and the BBSN because on Saturday, everytime the defense did something bad, they went to a shot of Joker, not Steve Brown. That made it look like Joker was making the calls on defense.

    And Larry, I felt like bathtub mold after your comments about Evans on the radio yesterday. Just know that I was upset with the administration for the poster, not DeQuinn.

  • Paul says:

    Let’s all face it: Whether we end up with a new DC next year or not, both the university and our coaches will keep doing the same things they have always done in the off-season and we are going to keep seeing the same kinds of results. I predict that we will either be 4th or 5th in the east next year. And I predict that we will be in the mix for the Liberty Bowl — maybe a bowl that is one level better, or maybe one level worse. And the rest of us will be insane to expect anything different. If we want anything more than that, UK will have to commit much more to football than it has traditionally.

    One more thing, I also predict that next year, as is the case almost every year, I will have more hope than this note reflects. And I will have no good reason, factually or statistically, to support that hope.

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