Mid-week Southeastern Conference notebook …
Kentucky coach Joker Phillips finds himself on the hot seat after losing to Western Kentucky last weekend to drop to 1-2 on the season.
In his position, Phillips could understandably be a little testy after the Wildcats lost on a two-point conversion trick play in overtime to the Hilltoppers. Even so, when your job is being questioned daily, it is perhaps not smart to react to a reporter’s question by going on the offensive in the postgame interview.
A reporter asked Phillips what he said in the locker room to the players. It is a perfectly natural question that any reporter could have asked and probably every reporter in the room would have liked to have answered.
“Well, I mean, that’s us. That’s our business,” Phillips snapped. “We give credit to Western Kentucky again, but what we say in our locker room is our business. It’s family. I don’t know what you told your family today before you left, but that’s our business. We’re going to talk amongst our team in our locker room. Our locker room is our locker room.”
The Kentucky locker room is the Kentucky locker room, true, but Phillips probably could have said it a different way. He needs all the friends he can get and it is not the wisest choice to get sideways with the media. …
Ole Miss gets to step down in competition this week after getting hammered by Texas last week. The Rebels face Tulane in New Orleans and they get safety Trae Elston back after he served an-SEC mandated one-game suspension last week. Elston was benched by Mike Slive for what was deemed a dangerous hit.
With Elston back in the safety rotation, along with Cody Prewitt and Chief Brown, Charles Sawyer and Quintavius Burdette will move to the corners.
“He’s a little tentative at safety,” Rebel coach Hugh Freeze said of Sawyer. “You can tell it wasn’t his natural deal. It just wasn’t something that came natural to him. He gives us a longer corner with a little more experience. We’re going to try him out there. We’re playing those corners too many snaps. We need more bodies. It doesn’t do anything to any of them except decrease some of their snaps. We still need all of those corners to run around in this league and play. We’ve just got to be more physical at corner and stay with the receiver.”
Elston will be welcomed back. He was the first of two SEC players targeted by the commissioner for the same violation. South Carolina defensive back D.J. Swearinger will miss this weekend’s game after a dangerous hit on a UAB player last week.
Slive is trying to crack down on unnecessarily dangerous hits that endanger player safety, which is not a bad thing at all. …
Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones missed last week’s game — if you can call it that — against Florida Atlantic but is still hoping to play Saturday when Vanderbilt visits Athens. However, as of mid-week, Jones was still getting limited contact work in practice as were defensive end Cornelius Washington and receiver Rantavious Wooten.
Mark Richt is still hoping that at least Jones would be able to play against the Commodores. …
Florida’s Jeff Driskel is justifying Will Muschamp’s choice of starting him over Jacoby Brissett each week. The sophomore quarterback has grown up markedly as Florida opened the SEC season with road wins at Texas A&M and Tennessee. For the year he is 37 of 52 passing for 495 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
“I just think in general, defensively, he’s understanding the whole scheme of what’s happening to him on the other side — what they’re trying to force his hand on,” offensive coordinator Wayne Pease told Scott Carter of GatorZone.com.
Driskel has another dimension to his game—running with the football. He’s rushed 25 times for 113 yards and Muschamp appreciates that part of Driskel’s game.
“A one-back set is a 2-back set now, a 2-back set is a 3-back set, so you create a lot of issues for a defense when a guy has legs at the quarterback position,” Muschamp said. “You’ve also got to simplify things in the passing game because, from the standpoint of a defensive coordinator, you’ve got to make sure that all areas are covered. Mostly you’re going to get a lot of middle-field coverage.”
Muschamp is pleased with his choice of a starting quarterback now, and he expects things to get even better the deeper Driskel goes into the season.
“When you’re able to start seeing those things, and the game continues to slow down, I think he’ll continue to play well,” Muschamp said. “The thing about Jeff is he’s going to continue to work at it. He’s a humble guy, he’s going to come in and understand the things he did well and why they worked and the things we need to improve on as a football team.”
After posting two come-from-behind wins in hostile environments, Driskel and the Gators have to be feeling confident that they can handle anything the might find themselves in Saturday when they meet Kentucky at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
“I think as much as anything it brings the guys confidence that, regardless of the situation or circumstance, we can make this thing happen,” Muschamp said.
So far for the Gators, they are making things happen in the 2012 season.