‘Little things’ could have big impact


The UK football team plays Mississippi State at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2009. Photo by Adam Wolffbrandt

On the football field, the last thing a coach wants to worry about is the players’ footwork, getting in the correct stance and understanding snap counts.

After Monday morning’s practice and looking at film from Saturday’s intrasquad scrimmage, UK head coach Joker Phillips said those “little things” are what’s on his mind.

“The little things are the things we have to take care of,” Phillips said. “(There were) way too many missed assignments Saturday. That’s the difference in the defense stopping the offense, and also the difference in our offense getting the ball in the endzone a couple more times, too.”

One thing Phillips doesn’t have to worry about with the Cats is their energy and effort exerted in practice, saying Monday’s practice was “spirited.”

After losing 27 seniors, Phillips said they’re trying to develop leaders, more so on the defense than the offense. Experienced offensive leaders like Mike Hartline, Randall Cobb, Derrick Locke and Stuart Hines are players Phillips can rely on and he said they have to get similar players on defense.

Senior-to-be DeQuin Evans is one such player.

Evans will enter the season with UK after leading them with a team-high six sacks and registering the third-most tackles among returning players in the 2009 season. Evans had to sit out Saturday’s scrimmage with a sprained right knee he suffered in practice, but Phillips said he’s a guy they’re counting on to be a big time leader.

Evans said he wasn’t a “rah-rah” type of player, but with so many seniors graduating it’s a perfect time for guys to step up and he’s trying to bring back the “kid in the sport.”

“This is something you’re supposed to love to do,” Evans said. “I understand it’s not always going to be a happy situation when you mess up on a play or something, but you’re out here playing football. This thing is what you’ve been doing since you were a little kid. If you’re not having fun doing it you’re most likely not going to have a good game.”

Evans said working on the little things will lead to the big things falling into place, but agreed with Phillips in that the Cats were playing with great energy.

Florida and Alabama, owners of three of the last four national championships, were two such teams Evans pointed out that always play with the energy needed to win the big games.

Evans said as long as the Cats work with great energy, he doesn’t think anyone can stop them and their effort will be the key to the season.

“I don’t think we have the best talent as everybody, but I know as a fact there’s nobody that’s outworking us right now,” Evans said.

“Since we’re not as talented as everybody else, we don’t have as much depth as all these other SEC teams, that’s what we have to do. We have to physically out-beat them and play with relentless effort, just keep working hard and outwork everybody.”