LEXINGTON, Ky. – University of Kentucky football head coach Joker Phillips and the Kentucky football team hit the Tim Couch Practice Fields for a two-hour practice on Wednesday in preparation for Kentucky’s final game of the 2012 slate this Saturday against Tennessee. Kickoff at Neyland Stadium is set for 12:21 p.m. ET and will be televised on the SEC Network.
After practice Wednesday, Phillips laid out the schedule for the Wildcats as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches. Phillips said the team will practice early Thursday morning before breaking for the holiday after practice and reconvening Friday afternoon.
“We will get together tonight and have our team Thanksgiving meal at about 5 o’clock,” Phillips said. “Then we will practice first thing in the morning and allow the guys that are local to go home after practice. The non-travel squad will be dismissed and the guys that are traveling will have the opportunity to go either home or with some family or with other players. Many of them are going to some of the coaches’ houses and then we will get back here at 1:30 Friday afternoon. So we will give them Thursday afternoon and Friday morning.”
As for practice on Wednesday, Phillips was again pleased with the team’s attitude in practice the last couple of weeks.
“It was a good practice because we have good kids,” Phillips said. “That is the thing that you notice in a time like this. They could easily have attitudes or say, ‘I’m not listening to you’ but they are allowing us to push them during this time.”
Phillips said Monday at his weekly news conference that he and his wife, Leslie, will welcome family members to their house for Thanksgiving. The head coach said he will also have some of the out-of-town players at his house for the holiday. Phillips said his family will also help serve food for those not as fortunate as he and they will use the holiday to teach the younger kids in the family what they have to be thankful for.
“We love having them over there and being around family and friends this time or year,” Phillips said. “We will serve food also. My family always goes out this time of year and serves food to the needy and we will do that also and do some things to let all the young ones understand how thankful they are. It is not so much for us grownups, but it’s more for the teenagers of the family and let them know how thankful we are.”
Phillips said he expects to enjoy and take a step away from things this Thanksgiving holiday more so than when he was in charge of the program’s future. Phillips said he and his wife have poured a lot into the UK program and haven’t gone a night without thinking about its future.
“Being here, being home and the place that I love the most, your brain never turns off because the whole time, from 2003 to now, my brain never turned off from thinking ‘How can we make this thing better?’” Phillips said. “I really never got a good night’s sleep because the whole time my mind was churning on how we can make this better. I would wake up in the middle of the night and think about how we could make this better, how can we make this better. Why? Because its home. I wanted to make it the best it could possibly be. I think in the last two weeks that has changed a little bit. When I was talking about trying to separate, I didn’t mean separate from wearing the gear, but to separate and let my mind be clear and not always try to think about making this thing better. It gave me a chance to get some rest, and I will do it this Thanksgiving as well. I know that might sound weird, but it’s the truth in thinking about this thing, that is how it has been. Same with my wife, she has been the same way.”