Well today the Joker Phillips era came to an end at Kentucky. What was supposed to be a continuation of the rise initiated by Rich Brooks turned out to be a steady regression. Said regression was partially due to player defections, recruiting busts and an unbelievable rash of injuries. But don’t forget about luck. Kentucky has never been the luckiest football program, but under Phillips they seemed to be especially snake-bitten. Here are a few plays that could have changed Joker’s tenure with a little luck.
- Auburn 37-Kentucky 34 (2010) – In a game that was won but a last-second field goal, Auburn fumbled the ball on their own side of the field. Cornerback Randall Burden recovered the ball on the sideline and the Cats potent offense was set to take the lead. However, after a review, the officials ruled that Burden ever-so-slightly touched the out-of-bounds line before securing the ball. The eventual national champs went on to win.
- Jon Davis Recruitment- Davis committed to joker Phillips and Co. extremely early in the recruiting process. A 4-star tight end, Davis was supposed to be the crown jewel of the recruiting class and finally provide UK with a weapon at the position again. Near signing day Alvin “Bud” Dupree verballed to the Cats and Davis seemed to get upset despite the fact that Dupree was classified as an athlete in HS. On signing day Davis flipped to Illinois and Dupree came to Lexington and became a force at linebacker.
- QB development- In 2009 Kentucky signed not one but two 4-star quarterbacks to replace Mike Hartline. Or even take his job, as many wanted. Fast forward and neither has worked out. Ryan Mossakowski injured his shoulder and was never the same player. He left UK and transferred to junior college. After starting there for a year, he had no scholarship offers and transferred to FCS Lamar, where he was benched during the season. Morgan Newton started for an injured Hartline as a freshman and led the Cats to a bowl game, but once he became the starter full-time his development stopped and he lost confidence in himself.
- Louisville 24 Kentucky 17 (2011)- After trailing for most of the game, Kentucky’s offense was moving the ball on their final drive. Newton looked confident and accurate and the Cardinals defense seemed to be on their heels. On 3rd & medium in the Red Zone Newton throws the ball to Demarco Robinson but the ball is poked out and rolls backward. Kentucky recovers but is faced with 4th & long. The next pass is incomplete.
- Smith Injury- After taking over the starting quarterback position, Max Smith was poised for a big leap forward in 2012. The coaches rebuilt the offense to work to Smiths strengths; accuracy and quick throws. He played in 4 games before an ankle injury ended his season. The coaches have been forced to play Newton and true freshmen at the most vital position. The results have been predictable, as the quarterback committee took 5 weeks to match Smiths passing totals.
- Georgia29-Kentucky 24 (2012)- Everyone had already written off the Wildcats in this game. But they came out and hung with the Dawgs right off the bat. Near the end of the game, after most of the stadium had emptied, Raymond Sanders punched it in to bring the Cats within 5 points. They lined up for the onside kick and tried to dribble the ball forward. Mansour was in perfect position to recover the ball but it rolled just short of the required 10 yards. While waiting for the ball to cross the line, Kentucky allowed Georgia to recover the ball and go on to win the game.