Raymond Sanders understands fans worries

Raymond Sanders knew Kentucky fans were worried last week when Kentucky was struggling through an abysmal first-half offensive performance against Central Michigan.

Raymond Sanders knew Kentucky fans were worried last week when Kentucky was struggling through an abysmal first-half offensive performance against Central Michigan.

"We were worried, too, and I understand, and we understand, that we have to improve. We are out there playing and we know it is tough on our fans when we are not getting the ball in the end zone, but they have to understand we are working and we are going to improve," said Sanders, a sophomore running back. "We should have scored more. We had three touchdowns we didn't get. Those are plays as we come together we will make later one.

"We have all the confidence in our guys and I?know (quarterback) Morgan (Newton) is going to keep throwing the ball to those guys and keep making plays with his feet and me and Josh (Clemons) can compliment each other running the ball. The offensive line will get better, too, and the defense will push us to be better. It will get better."

Kentucky fans will find out Saturday night when UK hosts rival Louisville, which was upset by Florida International last week. After that game, Louisville coach Charlie Strong said Kentucky was better than his team, a thought Kentucky coach Joker Phillips is not yet ready to confirm even if he hopes Strong is right.

"We'll get to see. It's hard to judge teams when they haven't played common opponents. Who knows how well we would have done against Murray State and FIU? Who knows how well they would have done against Western Kentucky and Central Michigan? The way to judge that is play each other. We do play each other this week, so we'll be able to know after this game," Phillips said.

He's seen more than enough from Louisville to worry him, especially since his team has had to use a 28-0 second-half scoring advantage to beat Western and Central Michigan.

"Those guys have done a good job over there, especially offensively," Phillips said of Louisville. They're averaging about 415 yards a game. They outgained FIU by 150 yards."

He noted that former walk-on quarterback Will Stein is completing 62 percent of his passes to "quality receivers" that include DeVanta Parker, a player out of Louisville that the Cats tried to recruit. Parker has two touchdown catches.

"We don't worry about the ones that got away. We're going worry about him this week because he's got a chance to play. Outstanding talent. He's got two touchdowns and two big-time catches in both those touchdowns. It will be a huge challenge to stop him. He's big, he's strong, he's fast, and he has great ball skills," Phillips said.

Phillips pointed out that Louisville has other receiving weapons.

"Michaelee Harris, a true freshman, is averaging about 16 yards a catch, (Josh) Chichester is averaging about 18 yards a catch," Phillips said. "Victor Anderson (90 yards, one touchdown) and Jeremy Wright (85 yards), they are two solid backs rotating at the tailback position. They have a good offense."

Phillips played at Kentucky with Stein's dad, Matt. UK also offered the quarterback from Trinity a chance to become a walk-on.

"He's become a really good player for those guys. (He) does a good job of pulling the ball down and running it," Phillips said. "Everybody shied away from his height (5-10). His height definitely hasn't been a factor. All he's done is gone out there and competed and competed at a high level."

He is 47-for-75 passing for 575 yards and four touchdowns with one interception. He has kept highly-touted true freshman Teddy Bridgewater in a reserve role.

Louisville's defense has given up just 94 yards per game rushing and 2.5 yards per play. The Cardinals have allowed 194 yards per game through the air.

"Their defense is an aggressive?style defense. They are doing a really good job of stopping the run," Phillips said.

Linebacker Dexter Heyman, Louisville's top tackler with 18 stops, moves around and is a key to the Cards' defense.

"It will be a huge challenge for us. Give us another opportunity to see where our program is at," Phillips said. "This is an important game, period. We've talked about that. The team that has won this game, usually went on and had a pretty successful season. It's important. It's not important to say the last time they've won it, all those things. That's not important. It's important for us to win the game because of the success that the winner has had after winning this game.

Phillips said there will be no surprises because he and Strong know each other too well.

" know his team is going to try to get after us, try to heat us up on defense, run the ball on offense, hit the play-action passes. The same with us," Phillips said. "We've now changed our style of defense. We'll be a little bit more aggressive on defense. He'll have two games (of video) on us now. Our offense is the same we've been the last times we've competed against each other.

"There won't be any surprises. It's an in-state game that will be old-fashioned, no surprise. Just two teams that will try to bloody each other's nose."

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