Vanderbilt Head Coach James Franklin Opening statement... "Great win for us, really appreciate the fans that traveled to Lexington to come support us. Crazy day in terms of weather, sunny one minute, raining the next minute, cold the next minute. From what I understand, got some pretty good information here, first time Vanderbilt has two road wins since 1951, we're 3-0 right now, we've won four of the last five so a lot of positives there. First shutout against an SEC opponent since 1968, two shutouts in the same year since 1964, so some really positive things to build on. I thought we played, in the first half, really well. I thought we played clean, I thought the kids executed extremely well. I thought we had really good plans, didn't feel like we played as well as we could have played in the second half, a little sloppy, didn't protect the football. We still have to get off the field on defense with three-and-outs and turnovers; we can continue to improve there. But overall, we played well, we're 1-0 this week and we want to continue to build on this next week. We'll enjoy it tonight, we have basically `til 12:01 to enjoy this win and then we'll move on to the next one and try to do whatever we have to do to get a win next week."
On Kentucky... "I've been impressed with them, watching them on tape all year long. They have some good players, they are playing a bunch of young guys, they have 14 freshmen playing. I thought the (Patrick) Towles kid; I looked for him at the end of the game. I thought he played really well, you can see why he was the player of the year in the state and why they recruited him so heavily. They protected him well tonight and I thought he threw the ball well tonight. They had some drops; I think his stats would have been even better. I think Joker (Phillips) is doing a good job, they're playing hard. They have a lot of youth."
On wins in the SEC... "There are no easy wins in the SEC. Everybody is coached so well, everybody has talent. I think we were able to do some things tonight against a good team and found a way to get a win. There are no easy wins, this team, they get a few breaks for them and it could be completely different. That's what we are trying to do; we work hard to try to create our own breaks. I think the score can be deceiving a lot of times, a lot of times you play a game and the score looks like it's a close game and it really wasn't or the score can be like it was today and you fought for every inch you got. We're just going to keep trying to get better. I tell you what, everyone has been incredibly welcoming here at Kentucky, the staff has been unbelievable and we appreciate the time we had here."
On this being a statement game... "No, we still have a long ways to go. We played well tonight, we got a win, we got a win today. Besides that, I don't know anything about making statements. We're 1-0 this week and it's just an opportunity for us to get better. We're going to watch the film; there are a lot of things I bet, watching this tape that we can correct to get better at. But, all those things I don't really focus or worry about those things, I just worry about being 1-0."
#11, Jordan Rodgers, QB On third down conversions... "I did not know that it was 9-for-11. That is huge. It has been a point of emphasis, and we have to keep getting better at it. Not really sure what was different about today, but we just executed them. We did a good job on first and second down to put us in manageable third down situations."
On reading Kentucky's defense... "We had shots down the field in the game plan. They really gave us what we thought they would. It's reassuring to get on the field and see what you have been seeing all week at practice. That is how we made those conversions on third down. We just executed."
On scoring on the opening drive... "It's huge, it's huge to start out with points regardless if it is a field goal or touchdown. It is important to have a long drive and end it with a touchdown. It demoralizes the defense and gives us momentum. It is something that we have been doing a lot better, especially the beginning of the game. We are doing better at sustaining our drives."
#1, Kenny Ladler, FS On the shutout... "A shutout is always good. Anytime the opponent does not score you had to do something right. I think we did a real good job coming out with the shutout at the end of the game."
On the defense's ability to stop Kentucky after turnovers... "The coach always challenges us after a sudden change to force a three and out. We did a real good job on stopping Kentucky on fourth down."
On the defense this season... "We feel like we are hitting our stride at the right time. We are taking better approaches, and forcing more three and outs. We are doing really good, but we can improve."
#67 Wesley Johnson, OT On scoring the first two possessions... "I think it was huge for us. We wanted to get off to a good start."
On converting on 3rd down... "We talked about it after the game last week. We really haven't been doing well with 3rd down conversions. All of our third downs were short yards so it was easier for us to convert."
On the effort late in the game... "They actually played really hard the whole game. I was surprised and impressed. They are a good team and we are definitely proud of this win."
#80 Chris Boyd, WR On the game... "We are very happy as a team because it was a team effort. Offense put up some points and the defense played tremendous. We are really excited about how we played today."
On why Vanderbilt was successful... "I think it had a lot to do with us coming ready to play and it being a full team effort. As a team, everything was rolling together."
Kentucky Head Coach Joker Phillips COACH PHILLIPS: All right, injury, E.J. Fields has a rib contusion, Neloms hamstring reaggravated, Quinn reaggravated his hamstring. That is the injuries. I was hoping, as they said, the audio was off. I was hoping it would still be off. That's the kind of year we've had.
It's a tough game, lot of mistakes. Defensively couldn't get ourselves off the field on third downs. 8 of 10 in the first half and converted one of the fourth downs on one of those. So that equals -- that's what equals the points that they had in the first half. I thought offensively we moved the ball some in the first half. Our margin for error with the young football team offensively is very small. You get a holding penalty after a big play, and then have a tough sledding after that, so had a couple of those.
Special forces was really bad today. Lot of things that we hadn't seen all year, and that's one of the areas where we had been fairly good, fairly consistent. Ran into the punt catcher twice, dropped a couple balls in the return game. Just a very sloppy performance in the kicking game. Any questions?
Q. When you run and your guys are in the tunnel jumping up-and-down and you run out on the field and it looks like 20,000 people in the stands. Does that affect you? COACH PHILLIPS: First of all, I appreciate the fans who were there. That's the thing that I see. I see the people that are there and I want those guys to know that we appreciate them. Regardless of how it looks, you've got to play. Regardless how it looks. I've played a lot of games when it's like that. Okay, you've got to play. It shouldn't have any effect on how we perform.
Q. Where do you think this team is at right now and where do you think you're at right now? COACH PHILLIPS: There are some hurt young men in there right now. No doubt about that. They are definitely not proud of the way they've performed today. I shouldn't say they; I should say the way we performed. It was not a very good performance by us.
What's kind of hurtful is how we played two weeks ago, and we haven't gotten to that level the last couple weeks. Where I'm at, I get it. I get this business. I get the criticism. Nobody in this program wants this place to have success more than me, but I understand. I understand this is a business that is based on results, and we haven't gotten the results right now.
Q. What does that mean you'll do, Joker? Obviously Mitch (Barnhart) wants to keep you and you're making it real hard on him. COACH PHILLIPS: Yeah, we are. No doubt about that, making it real tough for him. Again, I think it's a young football team. This place has won, and I've been a part of it. You look at it, and it's been some upperclassmen -- we're depleted up top in our upper two classes. The last four years we've lost 49% of our signing class in the last four years. We have 88% of our last two classes that are a huge part of this program.
Kentucky's going to win when you have veterans at the top. When you're doing it the other way, it's going to take a little bit longer. It's going to take a little bit longer. But it's just hard. I understand how hard it is to fight through what we're seeing today.
Q. Pregame radio show (Mitch) was talking about in practice the enthusiasm, energy, it doesn't look like a team that's given up or anything. But how do you explain today? COACH PHILLIPS: It's hard. A lot of it has to do with youth, but you see it. You see the guys coming to practice. They're fired up, a lot of chatter. There is nobody dragging. Again, a lot of it has to do with how young we are too. If we were an old team, it would be hard for 46 juniors and seniors to show up every day understanding that you're out of bowl contention and those things.
But we've got 46 scholarship guys that are underclassmen that are playing. So that is the reason why I think you see the excitement at practice.
Q. Even with that, how does that not translate? COACH PHILLIPS: I don't know. Again, we're making a lot of mistakes when we get to the field. Making mistakes that we don't see on the practice field. We're not getting people stops and then we just can't stay on the field offensively.
Again, we've moved the ball the first three series offensively. Actually, every series except for the last series we had in the first half. Again, it's hard for us to drive the football the length of the field. Today when we got into the second half, we couldn't take advantage of the short fields.
Q. Do you believe you still deserve another year? COACH PHILLIPS: That's not for me to decide, but we've tried to do this thing the right way. We've got to come up with ways of keeping our kids in our program. We've put together some things that allowed us to do that. There's a lot that's helped us to do that.
Again, we have a lot of young kids in this program, but that's not for me to decide. The other thing, our last 12 (SEC) games, we've played a true freshmen at quarterback. There's no excuse. These are facts. I'm not making excuses. I'm giving you facts. Playing a true freshman or wide receiver at quarterback other than the Florida game where Morgan went in and played the start of that game.
Q. Question regarding the comparisons in Kentucky and Vanderbilt ... COACH PHILLIPS: Vanderbilt is Kentucky, in my opinion. That's a program that you have to continue to keep people in your program. Defensively they have a lot of juniors and seniors all throughout their program. Only four of their freshmen -- the great class that you announced that they have, only four of them are playing, four. We're playing 14 of ours.
I'm not here trying to sell me or whatever. I'm just giving you facts. These are all facts. These are the facts of how you win here at Kentucky. We have to -- we've won here with veteran quarterbacks. We don't have a veteran quarterback right now.
Q. You'd like to be back though, correct? COACH PHILLIPS: I'd love to. No doubt I would love to. It's not for me to decide. I understand Mitch's position and the things that go into.
We've got some good young kids here that are hurting worse than any guy that is associated with this program. I'm talking about fans also. Those kids are hurting. They're hurting badly by the way we performed today.
Q. What do you tell them when they're hurting that badly? COACH PHILLIPS: The one thing that I do not want our kids to do is try to shoulder the things that are happening there are coming at me. I don't want them to do that. I would be very disappointed, okay. I also want our kids to do the right things. One thing you see when you start going through this type of -- when your program starts to go through things like this, you start seeing kids start veering off and not doing things the right way academically. You start seeing kids not doing the right things socially and on the football field and practice field. You see kids start to quit.
Our kids are not quitting. Our kids are doing what they're supposed to do in the classroom and socially we're demanding they do the right things.
Q. A statement we've heard all year is that this thing would be evaluated at the end of the season. Do you have any reason to believe that will change? COACH PHILLIPS: No, I don't. But here's the thing: If there was a decision either way, I would think it would be important for me or Mitch to come out and make a decision, either way help either way. Help get another guy or help us in recruiting.
So, we have not talked. Again, it will be evaluated at the end of the season, like you said. That's all I know about it.
Q. What is your gut? Do you think you will come back? COACH PHILLIPS: My gut was that we'd win this game today, okay? That's where my gut was. You can't go on your gut.
Q. Talk about Patrick Towles and how he impacted the game today? COACH PHILLIPS: Inexperience. He's a freshman quarterback. He's a freshman quarterback who tries to manage all the things that we ask those guys to do. I thought at times he threw some really good balls. The thing that Pat needs to do is continue to grow and understanding how to read coverages, and understand where his first, second and third reads are. Sometimes he does get confused with coverages, sometimes he does get confused with where his reads are. But when he knows where his reads are and cover, he has very good command of the football, stands in there strong.
I thought he made some really good plays, even one that we missed on the fourth down. That was as good a throw as we've ever seen around here.
The play he threw to Legree, another outstanding throw and catch. He's only going to get better. He's a true freshman. He's a true freshman that's probably played -- what did he play, 16 snaps in that Mississippi State game. 16 to 19 snaps. I bet he played 20 last week and maybe 20 this week. So talk about a guy that's probably played 59 snaps of college football. So he is only going to get better.
Q. You have the bye week coming up. Do you try to do something fun? COACH PHILLIPS: We're going to scrimmage some of the young kids that's haven't gotten a chance to play. Again, I said this to the staff and I looked up and said all the young kids played. Who are those guys? Those guys will be the other 12 guys that are in this class that have not played. There will be some young guys that haven't gotten a lot of reps also. The young guys, we can't hit them. We won't be able to hit them because we need them. But we've got to try to get some of the young guys better.
Sometimes when you go throughout the season you neglect some of the guys that are red shirting. You don't get a chance to coach them, and every chance we get, we want to coach those guys.
Q. Question regarding the play of linebacker Avery Williamson, who ended with 20 tackles - a career high ... COACH PHILLIPS: Avery's a self-made football player. He's done an amazing job. Self-made meaning he's made himself a physically fit guy in the weight room. He's made himself a good linebacker by film study, a guy that works really hard on the football field. He's just a guy that plays his heart out. You know, he's a guy that takes care of business off the field also. He's one of the leaders on the defense. I'm not surprised by anything that kid does.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
#5, Ashely Lowery, S On his pick during the game... "It was big, we just have to come out and keep fighting in the second half and not give up. We just want to keep fighting."
On the locker room after the game... "It's always depressing after a loss, nobody likes to lose and on top of that being shutout at home. It's real hard but we have to keep fighting. We need to come out next week and prepare for Samford."
On what Joker told the team... "He told us that he did not give up and to keep fighting. We need to fight for him. We need to try to send the seniors out right."
#14, Patrick Towles, QB On the toughness of this game... "Every SEC football game you know you are going to play a top-tier team and we obviously didn't play as well as we needed to win the football game. We just have to keep going back to work and trust our work and preparation. We have to be ready to go (next time.) We have an open week next week so we have to get ready for Samford."
On how hard it is to prepare... "It (team's struggles) doesn't make it easy, but you have to just keep coming back and next Monday just prepare. You can't not prepare."
On the players feelings towards Coach Phillips... "We all love him. We want to win for the coaching staff, win for him, win for each other, win for ourselves, win for the fan base. We are trying as hard as we can to put positive stuff up there (on the scoreboard), but we just aren't doing that right now. We just have to trust that preparation so we can start to give you guys something to watch."
#13, Jalen Whitlow, QB On how practice went this week... "We practiced pretty good this week. We just didn't come out here and execute like we are supposed to. We just didn't play well."
On his performance today... "I think I played alright. I tried to make some plays here and there. I needed to make more plays with my feet when I had the ball."
On the upcoming bye week... "One positive about this upcoming week is that we (have a chance) to get people healthy. We will polish up on some things and get ready for the next game."
#40, Avery Williamson, LB On what happened in the game... "We couldn't stop their run game. We gave our offense bad field position. We had a lot of mistakes, special teams as well. We just had some real mistakes."
On the season... "It's been very frustrating. I was expecting a lot better than this, but it's making me stronger and I know it's making my teammates stronger too. It's just going to give us something to work for from now until next year."
On being a leader for the team... "It's been stressful but it comes with the position that I got. Everyone is depending on you. You just got to take it a day at a time and make sure you're on you're `A' game and hope that your teammates are behind you as well. All you can do is worry about what you have to do on your assignment and that is all I can do."
On how the team is staying focused... "You have to be a pro. You have to just block out all of the outside stuff and just keep working hard even when times are bad, you just have to keep working hard."