UK doesn’t expect hangover after weekend’s loss


at the UK vs Florida football game at the “Swamp” on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2010 Photo by Britney McIntosh

Despite the losing streak to the Florida Gators extending to 24 games, the Cats are optimistic that they can forget about Saturday’s blowout.

UK (3-1, 0-1 Southeastern Conference) can’t afford to dwell on the loss, UK head coach Joker Phillips said, with another SEC road game against Ole Miss (2-2, 0-1 SEC), upcoming this weekend.

“I think they’re over (the loss). I feel like they’re over it,” Phillips said. “Kids get over it quicker than coaches. That’s the other thing … it lasts a little bit longer for coaches, a lot longer actually than it does for players. But as soon as you touch down in Lexington, the phones are starting to blast and the headsets, (the players) are listening to Nelly and Kanye West.”

Phillips also said that he reminded his players of their fast start to the season and that by winning on the road in Oxford, Miss., the chance for a “great season” is still very much a possibility.

However, when a Gators’ offense ranked 11th in the 12-team SEC entering the weekend racked up 466 yards of total offense, it left some questions to be answered on defense. Specifically, the number of missed tackles in the second and third levels of the defense.

“You’ve got to step on people’s toes. We’re not stepping on people’s toes and running through tackles,” Phillips said. “We’ve got to have a couple periods just this week where we’re doing some full speed tackling. We have to.”

Phillips already addressed the tackling issue with his team yesterday during film study.

“We missed a lot of tackles that we should’ve made,” junior safety Winston Guy said.

More missed tackles will lead to more trouble for the UK defense, who have the task of shutting down Ole Miss senior dual-threat quarterback Jeremiah Masoli and junior tailback Brandon Bolden, who is averaging 7.7 yards per carry.

“Masoli is a good player, he passes it and runs it just as well, and that running back (Bolden) ran for 200-something yards,” Guy said. “That’s the thing we’ve got to stop: the run…everybody’s got to be in on the ball.”

Masoli transferred to Ole Miss after being dismissed from Oregon’s team in the summer for disciplinary reasons. Phillips likened the former Oregon gunslinger to former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, not only because of playing style, but also because of his ability to lead an offense.

Equally promising for UK quarterback Mike Hartline and the UK offense, is that the Rebels’ defense have given up the most points in the SEC and lost star defensive end Kentrell Lockett with an ACL tear on Saturday.

“If they’re giving up a lot of points, we definitely want to exploit that,” senior offensive tackle Brad Durham said.

Even though scoring many points seems like a possibility, as UK found out last week, expectations don’t always come to fruition in the SEC.

“I think our guys still feel confident that they now understand how fast the game is played in this league,” Phillips said. “It is played a lot faster than we had played in the first three games.

“We’re not 0 and 4, we’re 3 and 1, and we’ve got to stay positive.”

Injury report and TV information

Many Cats are day-to-day with injuries this week: Defensive end Collins Ukwu (ankle), wide receiver Brian Adams (back), linebacker Jacob Dufrene (quadricep), defensive tackle Donte Rumph (ankle), Guy (ankle) and offensive guard Stuart Hines (ankle), who didn’t make the trip to Florida.

Tight end Nick Melillo (ankle) is doubtful for Saturday’s game. He has yet to play this season due to injury.

UK’s Oct. 2 game at Ole Miss will kickoff at 12:21 as the SEC Network Game of the Week. UK’s Oct. 9 game versus Auburn will kick off at 7:30 pm on ESPN or ESPN2.