LEXINGTON, Ky. – University of Kentucky football coach Joker Phillips told reporters after practice Wednesday that although he is loving the focus that his team is giving in practice he is wanting them to mature and play a 60-minute game.
“I would like to see our team mature and play 60 minutes, instead of playing really fast for 30 minutes or 45 minutes,” Phillips said. “We have to play for 60 minutes.”
Last year, Kentucky had problems coming out of the gate with slow starts but often turned on and had a strong second half. This year seems to be opposite, Kentucky has been coming out of the gate strong in both games, scoring on its opening drive both times this season, but seems to not keep the same focus for the entire second half.
Part of the problem could be that Kentucky has had several injured players that should return to the field on Saturday. The position that will receive the biggest will be the defensive back spot as UK is expecting to get junior cornerback Randall Burden, sophomore cornerback Martavius Neloms and redshirt freshman safety Dakotah Tyler back for the game Saturday. Neloms and Tyler did not play against Western Kentucky last Saturday and Burden saw limited action.
All told, Kentucky expects to have most of the roster available for the game with Phillips saying that the injury situation is the best that he has seen it at this point in the season.
“It is as good as I have ever been around at this time of year at game three,” Phillips said. “We won’t have (tight end Nick) Melillo, we will get Dakotah Tyler back. We had a couple bumps and bruises and we will probably lose (safety) Taiedo Smith for this week. The rest of them should be back with just bumps and bruises.”
On the field, UK again had a solid day of practice Wednesday, setting all attention to the game against the Akron Zips at Commonwealth Stadium. Phillips credited the offensive and defensive lineman on setting the tempo at practice.
“Again, practice was good,” Phillips said. “I think that tempos of practices are set up front by your offensive line and defensive line and they are practicing fast and bringing everybody along with them.”
Kentucky will hit the practice field for the final time on Thursday. UK plays host to Akron at 7 p.m. The game will be televised by Fox Sports South.