Kentucky Looks to Regroup During Bye Week

By: Kim Allen Email
By: Kim Allen Email

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips has
said things didn't work well for his Wildcats in the first half of the season.

The Wildcats (2-4) have a bye week that dissects their season into two six-game sets. They finished the first half ranked near the bottom of the 120 FBS teams in a number of critical categories:
119th in total offense, 118th in scoring offense, 116th in passing
offense, 105th in rushing offense and 110th in rushing defense.

They've got six games to get better. Phillips said Saturday's 54-3 loss at South Carolina may have been the low-point of his two-year coaching tenure.

The Wildcats gained just 96 yards of total offense, including 17 yards passing.

"There are very few things we're doing well on offense right
now," Phillips said.

Linebacker Danny Trevathan -- one of the team's few bright spots
leading the Southeastern Conference with 12 tackles per game -- said a lot of the Wildcats' struggles are a result of forgotten
fundamentals. Teams spend hours working on fundamentals during
spring practice and preseason training camp, but Trevathan said
it's easy to get caught up in game plans, classwork and other
things and forget what you learned.

So the Wildcats are using this bye week to remember the fundamentals.

"We need to go back to square one," Trevathan said. "I think that's what we have to do to evaluate ourselves. There are some errors we made against South Carolina that were just miscommunications that turned into huge things. That kind of stuff isn't supposed to happen. We have to fix that, and now we have the chance because of this bye week to get into detail with it."

Phillips said the team has remained upbeat since the 51-points
loss. Practices this week have focused on units that need immediate improvement through easy fixes or personnel changes, such as kickoff and punt returns.

That area was one of the team's strengths last season because Randall Cobb anchored the return game -- something he's now doing for the NFL's Green Bay Packers. A few freshmen tried their hand in returns during special teams scrimmages Wednesday, and Phillips will continue to evaluate some of the younger players as immediate options in a full scrimmage Thursday.

During the bye week, Phillips said he will continue assessing the offense's struggles and how it can all be fixed. Junior quarterback Morgan Newton has struggled with consistency, but his offensive line is 115th in the country in sacks allowed (three-and-a-half per game), and his wide receivers have inspired little trust with numerous drops in key situations.

But Phillips, the team's former offensive coordinator in record-setting years under Rich Brooks, said he's been there before. It's up to him to make sure things that didn't work well in the season's first half change course in the season's second.

"I got this job because I took a struggling offense, fixed it and we won a lot of games," Phillips said. "I'm at that point now. I've got to get this struggling offense fixed. I got the job because of that, and that's the thing we've got to do.

"We've got to get it fixed, and we've got to get it fixed in a hurry."

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