‘Little things’ are a big deal to Phillips, rest of Cats


Despite only being a sophomore, UK running back Raymond Sanders, seen here carrying the ball against Akron last season, has taken on a leadership role at the position. Photo by Britney McIntosh

Following Thursday’s practice, UK football head coach Joker Phillips spoke about how pleased he was with his team’s ability to execute the “big” things on the football field. But it’s the “little” things that Phillips said cost the team games in 2010.

“I think that we are doing the big things really, really well,” Phillips said. “The thing that we have to do is that we have to understand that the little things are why we were 6-7. We keep talking about how the margin was really, really small to how close we were to being a team that won eight, nine, even 10 games. For us to close that small gap, we have to do the little things. I think we are doing the big things really, really well.”

But “little” things hold a different meaning with different members of the Cats’ squad. To Raymond Sanders, the team’s No. 1 running back in camp, the “little” things include hustle, focus and finishing plays the right way.

“Taking care of the ball, not throwing picks, defense making those interceptions, making those big plays that we need, making the right block. It’s just the little things like that,” Sanders said. “Running to the sideline, running on the field, running to the huddle. … that’s going to keep us in the race.”

Like Sanders, senior cornerback Randall Burden considers the “little” things to be the details that make a good football player great, such as finishing every drill and every play, even though those details might not show up in a box score.

“Little things can be anything from wrapping up when we are doing tackling drills or just doing team stuff, how your position is on different defenders, how your footwork is,” Burden said. “That can be really most of the little things.”

For Larry Warford, a media selection for the preseason first-team All-Southeastern Conference squad and a senior leader on UK’s offense, the “little” things mean developing the younger guys in the locker room into SEC football players.

“Just assignments,” Warford said. “Our defense is hectic, to say the least, and just getting used to everything that they do. We’re trying to get these young guys in, the guys who have not had experience. It’s really tough for them to pick up everything that Coach (Mike) Summers and Coach Phillips want them to at the moment. Once they get some time in they’ll be fine.”

But to senior linebacker Ronnie Sneed, a veteran presence on UK’s defense, the “little” things are perfecting everything that you do on the football field, perfecting every other “little” thing that the Cats are working on during camp.

“Just sharpening up techniques, making sure everyone knows their assignment,” Sneed said. “Coach (Rick) Minter is almost like a perfectionist, saying he wants things done the way he wants them done. Just putting together little pieces to the puzzle. Everybody knows their assignment, but now it’s just working on making it perfect.”