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By LARRY VAUGHT

Kentucky was close to playing true freshman quarterback Reese Phillips midway of the season when starter Jalen Whitlow was injured, but with only two games remaining coach Mark Stoops says Phillips will not play to preserve his redshirt season.

“If he (Whitlow) was reinjured we were going with Reese, going to put Reese in the game and give him a shot. Now with two games left, no chance of a bowl game or anything, I think it would be in our best interest to keep that redshirt year now,” said Stoops Wednesday on the Southeastern Conference coaches teleconference. “But he was moving up and repping with the twos really the second part of this season. Impressed with the way he’s progressing and excited about him in the future.”

Stoops said Phillips has handled needing to be game ready by not playing fine.

“He handled it very well because we was willing to take his redshirt year off if it helped the team to play, and he was preparing to play and really still is,” Stoops said. “But at this point, I would probably still go with Maxwell (Smith) to keep his redshirt. But I was excited to get Reese some reps in practice. I liked what I saw.

“He’s handled it very well, and very unselfish. Like I said, he was willing to play. I thought he would have went in there and done very well, so in a way I’m kind of disappointed I didn’t get an opportunity to see him play this year, but in the long run for the future of the program I’m glad to be able to keep his redshirt.”

Stoops said Georgia, which hosts UK Saturday night, has an “awful lot of talent” starting with quarterback Andy Murray.

“Very impressed with Murray, once again, and running back (Todd) Gurley is just a very, big, strong, physical running back. Of course, very talented receiving group that’s getting more and more healthy with (Chris) Conley coming back,” Stoops said. “Defensively, again, very good team and very talented. Bunch of linebackers that run all over the place and make plays. Very good up front with Ray Drew and good in the back end with (Josh Harvey-)Clemons and the rest of the crew. So it will be a real challenge for us.”

Stoops emphasized again that despite losing at Vanderbilt, he felt his team “played as hard as we have all year” last week.

“The outcome was not what we wanted. I felt like the team really played extremely hard. I thought we really had the best game defensively since I’ve been here. And again, I feel like we made some good stops and played extremely hard offensively as well. We’ve just got to stop having plays that are killing drives for us — penalties, dropped balls, missed assignments that create negative plays and all those things,” Stoops said. “But, again, I thought we moved it well, we’ve just got to execute better to get the ball in the end zone. We know we’ve got a little way to go, but pleased with the team’s attitude and effort.”

One thing frustrating Stoops is that UK has just one interception in 10 games.

“I like the way the group (secondary) practices, I really do. I think they go out there and really practice well and prepare for the games well. We’ve got to get our hands on some balls. I think a lot goes into that: pressure up front, blitzes getting there, trying to get bad passes. I think leads help. It’s no mystery we’re struggling to score points, so it’s just like last week the difference in the game was the turnovers,” Stoops said.

“So, I think they (Vanderbilt) were very smart with the ball and didn’t turn it over and don’t put themselves in that situation. I think most opponents know when we’re struggling to get the ball in the end zone that it would be very careless to throw the ball up and put it in bad situations. So I think that’s part of it as well. I think you have an opportunity to get lots of interceptions when you’re team’s scoring a bunch of points and teams are playing from behind as well. That’s not been the case this year. But we need to do a better job in the secondary, we need to do a better job creating pressure and creating some negative plays, whether it be tips or different things like that. I think the group’s getting better, but we all know we have a long way to go.”

13 Responses to Stoops on Reese QB Reese Phillips: “I think it would be in our best interest to keep that redshirt year now”

  • RJ says:

    At this point in the season, Stoops is absolutely right; keep the redshirt on Philips. There is nothing to be gained and a lot to lose by playing him now. Five games ago, I would have put him in and left him there.

    It’s interesting that Philips is definitely number 1 behind Whitlow on the depth chart. I’m just guessing but I think Towles thinks he got screwed out of his RS year last season and wants it back. The coaching staff was good enough to give it to him. But it seems that it might have come at a cost……………… Just saying.

  • Ira says:

    RJ,

    About Towles RS, I think a bunch of kids probably think they got burned by Joker the last 2 years the way he took red shirts off people, and especially last year. It was almost criminal in the way he used some of these freshmen trying to save his millionaire job.
    Would love to have some of those wasted RS back. Heck remember Avery Williamson, his freshman yr was spent on special teams. Now what served UK more special teams or having Avery back as a 5th year SR? Me I’d take 5th yr SR myself. Least that’s how I remember him spending his FR yr anyway.

  • RJ says:

    Joker certainly didn’t do the current coaching staff any favors from a personnel perspective. But Towles is now in a sticky wicket. He’s now solidly in third position going into next spring behind Whitlow and Philips unless Whitlow agrees to change positions (which he probably should do).

    The thing that impressed my about Philips (besides his grade point average) was his “presence”. He just never seemed to get overly excited about anything. He was not perfect by any means but then what freshman is. But, if he made a mistake he quickly shook it off and when on to the next play. I think the kid has a heck of a future.

  • Little Baron says:

    Ira, you really nailed it with: “… I think a bunch of kids probably think they got burned by Joker the last 2 years the way he took red shirts off people, and especially last year. It was almost criminal in the way he used some of these freshmen trying to save his millionaire job.”

    It reminds me of Tubby who ruined and/or de-railed the potential careers of so many players – about 37 players left UK during his years at UK… no development of so many players and miss-management of others (Rondo was food enough to start!). It was criminal that he cost so many players a financially rewarding future. I saw Dwight Howard (Houston Rockets) earlier and thought of Randolph Morris whose career never took off because he was never developed. As a Sr in HS, they played toe to toe (points, rebounds, blocks, team scores) in 2 games against each other (in metro-Atlanta area). Howard went pro a few months later and Morris went to play for Tubby at UK. “Now you know the rest of the story.” A year of player development under Calipari would have been 1000 times better than those 3 years under Tubby. That’s criminal… robbing Morria of millions, much like Joker wasted players’ college years and ruined any chance of post graduate playing.

  • Ira says:

    Notice TUBBY isn’t hasn’t done much at Minnesota either. Bet they were thrilled they were getting a heck of a coach when he went up there. But who what has he recruited up there.
    Uh who exactly has he put in the NBA up there as well. I don’t remember anyone. But I will be honest enough I don’t follow basketball as close as football so something could have slipped by, but still don’t remember any of my crazed basketball church friends ever mentioning it in those discussions.

    • Little Baron says:

      Ira… even if you followed basketball closely, you would not have seen any results by Tubby in Minnesota… always sub-500 in the Big 10 and about 6 months ago got fired since Minnesota finally had to admit he was a loser. Texas Tech who tried Bobby Knight and his son is the program who showed they really don’t have a clue about basketball when they hired Tubby several months ago to pretend to coach.

      Interesting FACT… Tubby has NEVER RECRUITED 1 PLAYER who played in the FF !
      That reveals he was never even an above average coach. Joker and Tubby BOTH inherited successful programs and managed to drive them down hill… they just had different starting points, but both crashed in recruiting and coaching. Calipari cleaned house and Stoops cleaned out as much as he could. Obviously a longer time is needed to recover from the football fiasco. Millions of dollars thrown away on those coaches and their assistants, and many fans still think they were great.

  • Pacman says:

    I have to disagree about Tubby. He can coach with the best of them. You are right in saying he is not a good recruiter but with winning records and NCAA tourney appearances at Tulsa, Georgia, KY and Minnesota he has proven he knows how to win college basketball games. His job is not to put players in the NBA. His job is to win BB games which he does quite well if you check his record. By the way he has also won a National Championship. Coaches that can say that are not standing on every corner

  • Ira says:

    PAC,

    Didn’t he come in after Pitino left? A team Pitino recruited. So not sure he won that championship with his own recruited talent. Not only that, best I can remember UK started a slow slide after Pitino’s kids graduated under Tubby. But you true basketball fans would have better knowledge on it than me.

  • Pacman says:

    Lets let the facts speak for themselves:
    Tubby Smith 49th on win list for active coaches but has only coached 23 yrs
    Career Record (major schools): 23 Years, 515-227, .694 W-L%
    Schools: Tulsa (79-43), Georgia (45-19), Kentucky (263-83), Minnesota (124-81) and Texas Tech (4-1)

    Conference Champion: 9 Times (Reg. Seas.), 5 Times (Tourn.)

    NCAA Tournament: 17 Years (30-16), 1 Final Four, 1 Championship
    NCAA Champion: 1998

    Makes the NCAA Tourney 74% of the time at 4 different schools. That is good coaching

  • Pacman says:

    Lets let the facts speak for themselves:
    Tubby Smith 49th on win list for active coaches but has only coached 23 yrs
    Career Record (major schools): 23 Years, 515-227, .694 W-L%
    Schools: Tulsa (79-43), Georgia (45-19), Kentucky (263-83), Minnesota (124-81) and Texas Tech (4-1)

    Conference Champion: 9 Times (Reg. Seas.), 5 Times (Tourn.)

    NCAA Tournament: 17 Years (30-16), 1 Final Four, 1 Championship
    NCAA Champion: 1998

    Makes the NCAA Tourney 74% of the time at 4 different schools. Higher % than Bob Knight or Coach K. That is good coaching

  • Pacman says:

    Also his record of 30-16 in NCAATournament games is better than Rupp’s record of 30-18 in NCAA Tournament games

  • JCC says:

    I am from the area where Phillips played HS football and he is by far more advanced than any QB I Have watched play since Billy Jack Haskins at Paducah. With Barker steping in next season it is going to be a real battle. Whitlow should move to another position and let Towles, Barker and Phillips battle it out with JW running out of the wildcat. I strongly believe that the UK defense may be strong enough to hold if the offense can become more consistent and win some big games. Just a thought!

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