LEXINGTON, Ky. – The University of Kentucky football team used its practice time on Thursday to hold a one-hour scrimmage at the Nutter Training Facility, allowing head coach Joker Phillips and the UK staff a chance to spend more time with the younger, more inexperienced players.
After practice, Phillips was pleased with several performances, saying that these types of scrimmages are very important for player development and the continued development of the program.
"We had some good work from some good young players that showed up today," Phillips said. "(Freshman tailback) Brandon Gainer, who is a guy that we just talked about yesterday that we needed production out of, had a good day. Jacob Russell, who is a young quarterback that transferred in here, had a good day. Defensively, (freshman linebacker) Tim Patterson got some good work and showed up and (freshman linebacker) Demarius Rancifer did well. Those are two positions that we are going to need help from in the future with those two guys at linebacker. Down at defensive line, (freshmen) Travaughn Paschal and Farrington Huguenin played well. We have some young guys that we have to continue to develop and we have to have more scrimmages like this – maybe we will do it more on Sundays – to give these young guys some work and continue to develop them."
Gainer gained the head coach's eye during the scrimmage Thursday, saying he was the player they were hoping to see the most and that the young back from Miami, Fla., showed up and ran well.
"Gainer is the guy that we wanted to see the most today and he showed up," Phillips said. "He ran hard and ran physical and pressed his blocks. He did a good job today. He was hurt most of fall camp. As soon as he started to make a push to move up the depth chart in fall camp he would get hurt and the other guys would move ahead of him. Watching him today, he has some ability, there is no question about that, but he has to stay healthy. He definitely showed today he has some ability.
"He is really physical and plays behind his pads. Sometimes he tries to play like he is a little back but he isn't a little back. You have to make guys miss sometimes but sometimes you have to play behind your pads and fall forward. He did that some and when he does that he is pretty effective."
Overall, Phillips has been very pleased with how his team has responded in practice during the bye week. The UK head coach said he thought the team needed to be coached up more mentally than physically and he thinks the players have answered the call.
"I think that physically our guys are trying," Phillips said. "I think most of it is mental. We had to get our guys back mentally. After a loss like last week the thing that you have to work on is getting your guys back mentally. I think they are back. They did a good job this week, coming out here and having some really positive and upbeat practices. We didn't ask all of them to scrimmage, but the ones that didn't I wanted them to use up all their energy with enthusiasm and they did a good job of that."
Kentucky players will be off Friday and Saturday while the coaches head out on the recruiting trail. The Wildcats will reconvene Sunday to begin preparation for the Jacksonville State game on Oct. 22.