Reeling Kentucky's next football foe is soaring Georgia

One more loss ends UK's bowl chances

jsmith3@herald-leader.comNovember 14, 2011 

The contrast between Georgia and Kentucky couldn't be greater: One is flying high while the other seems to be in a tailspin.

Georgia is one win away from earning a Southeastern Conference championship berth. Kentucky is one loss away from any chance at bowl eligibility.

Georgia is coming off a 45-7 drilling of Auburn (its largest win over the Tigers since 1946). Kentucky is coming off a 38-8 head scratcher at Vanderbilt (its worst loss to the Commodores since 1969).

One coach, Georgia's Mark Richt, was talking about his team playing its most complete game of the season as it won its eighth straight.

"I can't hardly think of another game that we've played in this stadium where we played as well as a team — offense, defense and special teams," Richt said. "I think everybody kind of fed off each other."

Phillips was saying the opposite.

"We all created what you just saw out there: coaches, players, offensively, defensively, special teams," he said. "Every man in there created this — including myself — and we've got to get it fixed."

There is little time left to do it with just two must-win games left, the first at No. 14 Georgia on Saturday and then the next against Tennessee, a team that hasn't lost to UK in 26 straight games.

In his weekly teleconference, Phillips said the coaches were meeting with the Kentucky players on Sunday to "make sure their heads are in the right place."

The team has to forget the loss to Vandy and remember it still has a chance to get back to a sixth straight bowl game.

"It's going to take great effort, great effort in preparing — great effort in preparing on the field, great effort in preparing mentally in the film room," he said.

On film against Vanderbilt, Phillips and his staff saw several glaring issues, most notably UK's inability to convert a third down (0-for-12) and its inability to stop Vanderbilt on third down (10-for-18).

The coach also lamented mental errors, missed assignments, penalties and myriad other things.

"Those things cannot happen at this time of the year," he said.

When Phillips was asked what his emotions were like after such a difficult loss, the coach talked about the ups and downs of football.

"You don't get a chance to hang your head, you don't," he said. "It's time to go. We felt bad yesterday on the drive coming back, but now it's time to roll up your sleeves and get back to work."

Injury report

Junior safety Martavius Neloms (ankle) is doubtful for the game at Georgia. Senior safety Winston Guy (shoulder) is questionable but "should be OK," Phillips said.

Offensive lineman Chandler Burden will get a cast on his injured thumb and will practice.

■ Junior linebacker Ridge Wilson (shoulder), who did not play last week, should be able to practice as early as Wednesday and play on Saturday.

Sophomore defensive tackle Donte Rumph (ankle) practiced at the end of last week and warmed up for the game but did not play.

"We didn't feel like he could protect himself out there," Phillips said.

■ Phillips confirmed that Maxwell Smith will start again at quarterback and that Morgan Newton is available to finish a game "if it's an emergency."

Phillips noted that Newton still has difficulty pushing off his injured ankle.

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