UK Football

Phillips remains confident after loss

Coach Joker Phillips blamed penalties for Kentucky's 34-point loss to Florida. Without those mistakes, "it's a ball game," he said.
Coach Joker Phillips blamed penalties for Kentucky's 34-point loss to Florida. Without those mistakes, "it's a ball game," he said.

It took three weeks, but the day finally came for Joker Phillips to face the media after his first loss as a head coach.

It wasn't so much the loss that has people buzzing. After all, it was a road game against Florida, a top-10 team Kentucky hasn't beaten since 1986.

But it was the way the Cats lost in a 48-14 rout that has drawn the fans' ire.

Going into the game, the UK players, coaches, fans and even the national media felt the Wildcats had a chance to be more competitive with the Gators than they have in recent years.

But Phillips isn't a novice when it comes to listening to what he calls "the noise."

"I've been well-trained; I've been a coordinator calling plays the last five years," Phillips said. "We'll be fine in that area. We're going to stick with our plan. We've got solid schemes in all three phases. We'll just continue to work them.

"We're 3-1. We're not 0-4, and we're not going to act like we're 0-4. We're going to act like we've got another opportunity to be 4-1."

As for the players, they insist their confidence isn't shaken after the blowout loss.

"We went into the game thinking we were going to win; we weren't thinking about losing," junior offensive lineman Billy Joe Murphy said. "We're trying to put Florida behind us. There's no ifs, ands and buts. We just didn't do it. That's always tough when you're let down like that, but we've got to bounce back. It's not the team that gets knocked down it's the team that gets up the quickest."

"Confidence-wise we're not down on ourselves," senior tackle Brad Durham said. "We took the loss, and now we'll go on. Every game is the biggest game of the season.

"We've got to go down there to Ole Miss and face adversity again and try and come up with a win this time."

Ironically, Phillips said he had to give the team a pep-talk after a 63-28 win over Western Kentucky that got them to 2-0.

"I pulled our team together on Sunday, and it felt like we were 0-2," Phillips said. "It was a feeling around our football team. I don't know if it was hearing stuff out in public or what. But I pulled them together and said, 'Look, we are 2-0. Let's act like we're 2-0. Let's get some bounce in our step. It's the same thing now. We're 3-1. We still have an opportunity to have a great season and do something special, but we can't do anything special if we don't go down (to Ole Miss) and take care of business."

Phillips said the losses are tougher on the coaching staff than the players.

"Kids get over it quicker than coaches. ... As soon as you touch down in Lexington, (the players') phones are starting to blast, they're listening to Nelly and Kanye West, whereas coaches, we turn our phones off," Phillips said. "We definitely don't want to hear Nelly and those guys."

Phillips isn't worried about the team's mental state heading into another pivotal road game at Ole Miss on Saturday.

"This team is a confident team, there's no question about that," he said. "The things we put them through in the off-season has given them confidence. I haven't gotten the feeling that they think they're 0-4, but I don't want them to not think we're 3-1. We can't listen to the noise. I know there will be noise, that's fine; that comes with it. But we don't need noise within our locker room."

Auburn kickoff set

Kentucky's Oct. 9 home game against No. 10 Auburn has been scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff and will be televised by either ESPN or ESPN2.

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