Phillips relates to frustrated fans

The UK football team lost to arch-rival Louisville at home Saturday for the first time since 2006. The loss to the Cardinals came one week after Louisville lost at home to Florida International, a team far from the spectrum of major college football. Following the loss, the mood was somber across Big Blue Nation as fans’ hopes of reaching a sixth consecutive bowl game began to dwindle just three weeks into the season.

Some players feel that the fans are premature in giving up on the season, reasoning that it was just one of 12 games on the schedule and that the Cats still sit at 2-1 on the season.

Senior guard Stuart Hines is already looking ahead from the loss.

“We just have to put this one behind us and start preparing for next week,” Hines said. “We can’t sit here and put our heads down, we just have to move on.”

UK head coach Joker Phillips, who has been involved with the program since taking over as offensive coordinator in 2003, understands fan’s concerns after the loss.

“I feel the same way as everybody,” Phillips said in his weekly press conference Monday. “Hey, understand this: I care about this program more than anybody in here. There’s not one person in here that cares more about it than me.”

Phillips has dealt with difficult seasons before. Upon returning to Lexington in ‘03 as a coach, he didn’t make his first trip to a bowl game until 2006. For that reason, Phillips remains determined and unconcerned about Saturday’s defeat.

“I’m angry,” Phillips said. “I’ve been a part of an 0-10-1 season.  Battled ourselves to get to a 9-3 season. As a coach I’ve been in a 1-10 season. Battled ourselves to where we won eight, nine games. I’m angry also. I’m not satisfied with what we’re doing here, I’m not. It starts with me. We’ll get it corrected.”

The focus for UK now turns to the Florida Gators, the first SEC opponent on UK’s schedule this season and the nemesis that has defeated the Cats 25 years in a row.But this year, UK players think they have a secret weapon: motivation from the loss to Louisville.

“We’re gonna bounce back,” junior wide receiver La’Rod King said. “We’ve got Florida in SEC play next week and we are going to take this feeling and put it in our back pocket and use this motivation to our advantage.”