After experiencing almost picture-perfect weather for most of spring practice, severe thunderstorms are expected for the University of Kentucky's Blue-White Spring Game at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday. But Joker Phillips expects the show to go on.
"I don't expect it to affect the game," the UK coach said. "We've got to play in any kind of elements that we're given. The crowd, I don't know that (effect). I hope that our fans will come out, but I don't expect it to affect any parts of the game. Our players have got to understand we might get dealt this type of weather in a game this season."
Actually, the game will have a different look and feel than most years, as Phillips has decided to make it offense vs. defense instead of a standard game format. The offense will get the usual three points for a field goal, six points for a touchdown and one point for a PAT and will also get awarded a point for a first down.
The defense will get 10 points for a touchdown, six points for a turnover, three points for a three-and-out, two points for a fourth-down stop and one point for forcing a punt.
Phillips said that Saturday's scoring system livened up Friday's practice, particularly when the defense made a play.
"We had a guy take an interception back for a TD, and one of the defensive guys said, 'That would have been 16-0,' " Phillips said. "There's been some trash-talking, and it should be fun to watch those guys. It's a little bit different when you put in a scoring system. We've had scrimmages and the defense hasn't had a chance to score unless they picked it and scored. Now they'll get a chance to see where they're at in the scrimmage."
A lot of attention will be paid to the three quarterbacks competing for the starting job: Mike Hartline, Morgan Newton and Ryan Mossakowski. Phillips hasn't said whether he'd name a starter after Saturday's game. But when asked if any specific player could nail down a position with a strong performance in the Blue-White Game, he said, "I think you can move up, but we've still got a lot of practices. We've got 29 practices in fall camp, so the competitions will be there, but they can position themselves better."
The Wildcats will bring in several freshmen who are expected to push for time in the fall, so Phillips said it's important for some of the returning players to make a statement.
"Guys understand that they have to be at least (number) two on the depth chart or these freshmen are going to be in front of them," Phillips said. "We're not going to put our freshmen fourth on the depth chart. They will immediately come in as third. And I think that's helped the competition among the underclassmen. They don't want to be fourth on the depth chart."
Phillips said that offensive coordinator Randy Sanders would call plays Saturday, but like most head coaches, Phillips has veto power.
"I'm the head coach, so there'll be some times when I see some things," he said. "We've all got to be able to see things on both sides of the ball. We make ourselves a better staff when me or Randy can give suggestions to the defense, and they give suggestions to us. You can never have enough eyes out there."
One thing fans won't see during the Blue-White Game is Randall Cobb running the Wildcat formation. Phillips said the offense has used it for only "about five minutes" during the spring just to introduce it to the new guys.
"It's no secret; we're going to run the Wildcat," Phillips said. "I just don't want Randall Cobb running the football."