It’s no joke

By Steve LeMaster

Following the resignation a few weeks back of Ron Hudson, the University of Kentucky football team has a new offensive coordinator, and he’s no stranger to the Wildcat football program. Phillips, UK wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator the past two seasons, will become the Wildcats new offensive coordinator, Coach Rich Brooks has announced.

“As I said when I hired Joker (in 2003), I became impressed with him when I first met him during the Atlanta Falcons training camp. My respect for his abilities has grown during our time together at UK,” Brooks said. “He’s ready—and in my opinion, probably past due—to be an offensive coordinator.

“Joker will continue as our receivers coach and he will continue as our recruiting coordinator through the end of this recruiting season (Feb. 2),” Brooks said. “I will name someone else as recruiting coordinator at that time, but, obviously, Joker will continue to be very active in recruiting.” “I’m very happy about this opportunity,” Phillips said. “Everyone in this business has ideas they’d like to implement. I’m excited about bringing some ideas to our program that I think can work.

“Our No. 1 goal is pretty simple: to out-score the other team. In order to do that, we have to out-hit and out-execute other teams, and if we do that, we will out-score them.”

Phillips, a wide receivers coach for most of his career, has seen several offensive systems. Following his time at Kentucky, Phillips played three years in the professional ranks with the Washington Redskins of the National Football League and the Toronto Argonauts in the Canadian Football League. His collegiate coaching and administrative experience has been at Kentucky (1988-96), Cincinnati (1997-98), Minnesota (1999-2000), Notre Dame (2001), South Carolina (2002), and again at UK (2003-present).

Phillips takes over the offensive coordinator post from Ron Hudson, who resigned on Nov. 22. Phillips helped design the game plan for the season finale at Tennessee and combined with Brooks and run-game coordinator Paul Dunn to call the plays against the Volunteers. Although the Wildcats lost that game, 37-31, Kentucky posted its second-highest scoring output of the season and the most points this year against a Southeastern Conference opponent. The 31 points also tied for the third-most points Kentucky has scored in 100 meetings against Tennessee and the most against the Volunteers in Knoxville since 1893.

“I thought the whole offensive staff did a very good job the week of the Tennessee game,” Brooks said. “The offense went pretty well and obviously that gave me more confidence in making this decision.” Spring Football should now bring with it with much more added excitement. Brooks said that the staff will begin working on adjustments for the 2005 offensive system in February.

“A lot of it will be worked out after recruiting,” Brooks said. “We will revisit things based on who our quarterback will be. Given his playing time this season, André (Woodson) is the leading candidate. It doesn’t mean that it is his job, but it is his job to lose. If André is the quarterback, we would emphasize the passing game more because that is his strength.”

Phillips wants the entire UK football team to adopt the right attitude. “The biggest change I’d like to see is our attitude in regards to how we feel about ourselves,” Phillips said. “We have to have a base, and if André is our quarterback, our base will be to spread the field and let André do what he does best. We’d like to spread the field more for him, get him in the shotgun (formation) more and let him see things develop. Obviously, we will need to run the ball and we have some strong running backs.” Kentucky will open the 2005 football season at home against rival Louisville. n