The game isn’t until Saturday, but today was our last chance to hear from Dan Mullen and Kentucky coach Joker Phillips.
Well, except for Mullen’s radio show at Buffalo Wild Wings tomorrow, of course.
But today’s SEC teleconference for us writers, reporters and such to pose questions to the head coaches preparing to face off in Lexington, and ask those questions we did.
Preparing for the match-up of Dawgs and Cats, we’ve got several notes to pass along.
- In addition to losing starting quarterback Maxwell Smith in the first quarter of last week’s game, Kentucky announced today that starting running back Co’Shik Williams is injured, as well, and is out for the season. Phillips also said on the teleconference the Wildcats lost a backup safety. Short story shorter: the injury bug bit hard in Lexington.
- As we noted Monday, UK will be rotating two true freshman quarterbacks this week in Patrick Towles, who hasn’t played yet, and Jalen Whitlow, who came in for Smith last weekend. Phillips said he’s not sure how the rotation will work and he will “play it by ear.” The QBs could rotate by the series, or even change within series’, Phillips said. By the sound of things, it could be similar to what we saw MSU do with Chris Relf and Tyler Russell for portions of last year.
- That said, while many have the impression that UK’s quarterbacks are similar in that way – one mobile and one a passer – Phillips said it isn’t quiet true. Whitlow scampered for an eight-yard touchdown against South Carolina, as well as a non-scoring run of 18 yards. Towles is considered more of a pure passer – even Mullen said it – but Phillips said neither is particularly strong in the QB run game.
- With those two freshmen, Phillips said there are limits to how much of the playbook the Cats can use, but he’ll do everything they’re comfortable with, even if it means throwing at MSU corners Johnthan Banks and Darius Slay.
- Mullen talked a bit about the UK quarterbacks, as well, expressing again the difficulty of preparing for one who’s never played and one who has only played one game.
- As Phillips said, though, Mullen knows both will be ready to throw the ball, perhaps even more so without their starting running back.
- On his own team, Mullen delved into the progression of defensive end Denico Autry, a junior college transfer who has started each game this year for MSU. Mullen said the transition to becoming an every-down player has been the biggest hurdle, but he feels Autry is “coming along, still developing.”