UK's Raymond Sanders unlikely to play against Mississippi State

Phillips hopeful he won't be out for long

jclay@herald-leader.comOctober 24, 2011 

The day after Kentucky's 38-14 win over Jacksonville State, Coach Joker Phillips' weekly Sunday teleconference sounded as much like a personnel meeting as it did a chat with the media.

Sophomore running back Raymond Sanders is "iffy" for this Saturday's game with Mississippi State, said Phillips, after the first-stringer suffered a high ankle sprain against Jacksonville State.

Though a high ankle sprain is usually considered more severe in nature than a regular ankle sprain, Phillips said he was hopeful that Sanders would not miss as much time as is normally associated with the injury.

"It's a high ankle sprain, it's just not one of those that they think he will be out four or five weeks," Phillips said. "But it's definitely iffy for this coming week. We'll have to see as days go by whether or not he can play this week, but it doesn't look good."

Phillips also confirmed that true freshman wide receiver Demarco Robinson was suspended for the Jacksonville State game because of a violation of team rules.

Robinson was reinstated Sunday, Phillips said, and should be available for Saturday's game.

The coach also discounted Internet rumors that true freshman running back Josh Clemons, who is out for the season after undergoing knee surgery, is unhappy.

"When you're struggling, people are going to start rumors and try and divide you as a football team, as a football family," Phillips said. "The thing that we've talked to our kids (about) is being together, and we're sticking together.

"There's no indications of those things. We've talked to Josh after hearing the things — we've got people that read the Internet and listen to you guys' call-in shows and all those things. People gonna start whatever they're going to start. The thing we have to do is stay together as a team. It's just some unknown rumor that's started by someone."

After struggling through a four-game losing streak, the Cats did get back in the win column Saturday. A resurgent running game, which produced 340 yards, had much to do with the victory.

"Our offensive line did a good job of sticking and staying on blocks," Phillips said Sunday. "Our backs did a good job of reading blocks also. We missed a few cuts but, for the most part, the backs ran hard.

"The thing we have to do in the run game is protect the football. We were able to get Morgan (Newton) started in the running game also. I think that definitely helps, when your quarterback is a threat to run, because of numbers. But we also need to secure the football."

Kentucky lost two fumbles on Saturday, one by Newton and one by Jonathan George, who later came back to score a rushing touchdown.

Subbing for Sanders, junior CoShik Williams rushed for a career-high 148 yards on 22 carries. Newton carried 12 times for a career-high 75 yards.

Phillips said that George would back up Williams if Sanders can't play on Saturday. He said that redshirt freshman Brandon Gainer would be the third guy.

"When you get into SEC play, it's hard to line up and play with two tailbacks," Phillips said. "Brandon has got to ... prepare himself like he's going to play."

Saturday, Kentucky plays a Mississippi State team that is 0-4 in the conference, but two of those losses have come by seven points or less.

"They are a good, physical team," Phillips said of the Bulldogs. "They've done a really good job of running the football. ... Defensively, they are very physical and athletic."

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