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Highlights of Joker Phillip's Press Conference


Joker Phillips held his weekly press conference today and here are some of the more interesting snippets.


First our injury report. Bille Joe Murphy actually ran today. We’ll try to find out tomorrow how he does with swelling. If he doesn’t, we’ll get him into some individual tomorrow. Then if he doesn’t swell after, that we’ll start getting him in some more of the practices. Taiedo Smith, he ran Sunday, looked okay. We have to see how he does today, and then make a decision tomorrow whether or not he’s capable of practicing.  Larry Warford is day-to-day with an ankle, but should be able to play on Saturday. He’s day-to-day whether or not he’ll practice. The reason we say day-to-day is because we don’t want to reinjure him. We think he can go on Saturday, so that’s the reason why he’s day-to-day.


We have had a chance to watch the tape obviously a couple times. We’ve got to get better, especially offensively. We got to do a better job with our field position also. When you’re struggling offensively, it’s hard to go 80 yards because teams, all they want you to do is continue to snap the ball, which is our goal, keep offenses continuing to snap the ball.

We started on the 20 or less seven out of our 12 drives, and that’s hard, especially for an offense that’s struggling. We got to do a better job at getting field position. A lot of that has to do with our kicking game and getting people stopped on defense.

On the other side, we talk about field position. 11 of the drives that Louisville had last week — they only had one that started backed up. They had two on our side of the ball, which scored two out of three times. We had none on the other side of the ball. We got to do a better job in field position because it’s hard when you’re struggling offensively to drive the ball 80 yards.

Also I think our defense is playing really good, playing good defense. The thing that we can’t do is we can’t allow people to throw the ball over our head. Red zone defense teams have not scored a touchdown on us. They’ve been in the red zone five times against us, and we’ve allowed four field goals, so we have not given up a touchdown.

The thing we can’t do is we can’t allow the people to throw the ball over our heads. That’s happened in a couple games. We’ve got to do a better job as coaches. I’ve got to do a better job also. We have to give these guys a better plan and a better job of executing a plan that we give them.


Q. Running the ball about 70% of the time on first down. On those plays, 1.2 yards per carry. Is 70% running on first down predictable at all?

COACH PHILLIPS: I’ll tell you, in the first game, first half we threw the ball five times on first down. Getting really, really far behind the count, behind the sticks. That was a game that we saw that our defense was playing outstanding. It was, Hey, just don’t screw it up, give our defense a chance to win this game.

Same with the second game, similar to the first game. Our defense was playing good after the first three series. It was, Hey, let’s just move the sticks, don’t turn the ball over, take shots when you get an opportunity, and we should win the game. Those things happen.

We’ve got to throw the ball first down. We’ve got to mix it up. We can’t be predictable. Those first two games, that’s the reason why the percentage is so high because of the first two games.

Q. Talk about speeding up the tempo.

COACH PHILLIPS: We’ve got to play faster. Looked like we played a little faster when we went into a two-minute mode. Not sure we’ll go that fast, but we’ll try to do some no-huddling. If you can remember, when we were a big no-huddle team, we’d burn up the clock. Our time of possession was a lot more than the opponents had.

I think because at times you take your time, you get up there, see what’s going on, then there’s time you have to play faster in the two-minute mode.

We got to mix it up in the type of tempos we do play because I think it does give us an advantage. Obviously it did last Saturday. We got to try to find a tempo that fits us.

Q. On third-and-longs, you’ve had 22 plays. What is the thinking on running (some of those plays)?

COACH PHILLIPS: A lot of times on third-and-long, they drop eight guys. You’re throwing into some tough coverages. When we drop eight, that’s where we got a lot of our interceptions. We’re one of the top teams in the conference in turnovers because we getting people in third-and-long and they’re trying to drop back and throw the ball. Every zone is covered underneath. You got three deep behind it. I think it becomes really tough.

We’ve tried to run the ball (on some plays). In the past we have converted on third-and-long by running the ball.

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