LEXINGTON, Ky. --- Comments from Kentucky coach Guy Morriss's weekly press luncheon on Monday at Wildcat Den:
On the team's mounting injury/depth problems:
"It's about like it was yesterday. The kids kind of trickle in during the course of the afternoon, and we haven't seen them all. I think (Keith) Chatelain is still questionable (with a sprained ankle). Antonio (Hall) is still questionable (with a sprained ankle). We've seen Nolan (DeVaughn). He's definitely out, probably another three weeks. They're going to try to have him ready for backup status after the Georgia game. Dewayne (Robertson) is out for probably three or four weeks. Derek Smith is probable. (Chris) Gayton is probable. Everyone else should be back at practice (Tuesday)."
On attempting to keep the team focused the rest of the season:
"We try to point out the positive things that happen in a game. The kids see it. I talked to them all yesterday. I think they're in a good frame of mind right now. It just goes back, I think, to the relationship the players and the coaches have developed, that they believe in their coaches and what we're doing. They see the positive stuff and understand the stuff we've got to get better at to keep improving. By the nature and the personality of this club, they're ready to get back to work. They've shown the coaches they're ready to go out, work as hard as they can, and beat LSU... I don't know how else you can go about it."
On positives the film revealed from the South Carolina game:
"I think defensively we had five or six guys play pretty good, maybe their best ballgames. I thought that Dennis Johnson played well. Chris Demaree played pretty well. Ellery Moore made a couple of freshman mistakes, but he is really coming on. He's starting to understand how you play the game of football at this level. He had a nice game. I think Quentus Cumby at a really good game, some of it at corner. He might be the best corner we've got. Anthony Wajda played pretty good. And I think our two freshman corners (Warren Wilson and Mike Williams) did a nice job."
"I thought offensively we ran the football OK, but we had some opportunities to break some other runs that our running backs did not find the seams, so we're coaching them up this week that we've got to get in those cracks and make some things happen. But the opportunities were there for them. The offensive line played pretty good. We gave up one sack, and that was because our young quarterback missed a hot read, an overload blitz, we didn't handle that well. But that one was on him. We had a couple of (quarterback) pressures when we had the young linemen in there, but I thought they played pretty good for their first baptism. We went through three centers, and Nick (Seitze) ended up playing pretty good. I thought that we spread the ball around pretty good. We had three or four receivers catch at least four balls, I think. We started seeing the ball going down the field a little bit longer. We need to get better at throwing the 'go' routes. We missed a couple of those. We got pass interference on one, and the other one was not thrown very well. We've got to keep working on that... make ourselves keep throwing it and challenge some corners. But there were some things that were positive."
On the quarterback situation and going with Shane Boyd the entire game:
"I think Shane is the guy for our future with the type of offense we want to have here, some of the things that we need to do. But I still think that, when we can, in the right situation if the opportunity presents itself, that we'll go ahead and play Jared (Lorenzen). Like last week against Ole Miss, he came in and gave us a little spark. And probably, if we weren't down so far, we would have used him Saturday. We didn't have but one series in the third quarter, and we were backed up deep in the fourth quarter. We were down quite a bit, so I thought let's let Shane take these reps. Every rep he can get helps him. We weren't throwing in the towel or anything like that by not making a substitution, but we felt like, at this point in his development, that he needs all the reps he can get.... The underlying issue was for Shane Boyd to take as many snaps as he could. He needs the experience."
On concerns of losing Jared Lorenzen to a transfer:
"I'd say as of today, no. I can't speak for Jared and what he's thinking, but there's no indication that he's given up. He's not going anywhere."
On Boyd's practice reps this week compared to earlier in the season, since he has won the job:
"We've pretty much split them even, 50/50, since camp and two-a-days. That's the way we'll do it now. Everybody says 'What about Jared? Why don't you put Jared in the ballgame?' Well, Jared has started 12 ballgames in his career and taken about half of the reps everyday in practice, so he's sharp."
"You've got to understand, too, that up until spring this year, Shane Boyd had never had a practice rep. If we had put him in the game against Georgia, that would have been grossly unfair to that kid, to have not had a rep since the end of two-a-days. We don't want that situation to happen, so that's why we're splitting reps. We think Jared's got enough reps and enough playing experience that he can go in and do a good job for us."
On how he balances playing Boyd for the future versus playing Lorenzen for a chance to win some games this season:
"I think it's a situation where the first thing you've got to do is to implement your system and your plan, to try and find the best players that are going to give you a chance to win within your system. I've heard a lot of people say, 'Well, why is he tinkering with the system if that's what these players know what to do?' But how do you go about recruiting to fit a particular system if you don't implement it from Day One? You've got to take the players that you've got and try to teach it to them and go through the process of going out and recruiting the type of players you want for your system. I don't know if I'm answering your question the way you intended it."
"It's almost got to be kind of a gut feeling. Like Ole Miss, I felt like we needed to make a change. We were well within striking distance. I thought we could win the ballgame if we could get something going. That's why we put Jared in. It was a different situation against South Carolina. I thought the best thing to do was to let the kid stay in the ballgame and work with the system."
On the possibility of using more young players:
"[Laughs] In the depth situation we're in, we're going to be forced to play them. It's not a matter of throwing in the towel on the season, benching the seniors and playing all the young guys. We'll try to work them in the game as much as we can, but our goal is still to go out and try to win football games."
"The situation with the offensive line, we have no choice. We've got two redshirt freshmen (Jason Rollins, Matt Huff) and a defensive tackle (Nick Seitze) who's been an offensive lineman since April that we're lining up and playing with. We don't have anybody left. That's just a situation with the numbers we inherited, and we can't do anything about it until we can recruit, and we're hampered by a limited number of scholarships we can offer. So we're fighting a little bit of a double problem there. We can't draft and cut and waive players. And we're not in the running anybody off business, so we take what we've inherited, go out and do the best we can with it until we can get it corrected through recruiting."
"They're very athletic. I watched them play Florida, watched them play Tennessee. Man, they've got athletes... everywhere. They're one of the handful of teams that can match up with those people from an athletic standpoint. I don't think their record is indicative of how good a football team they are. They lost a close one to Tennessee and Florida got after them pretty good. But they're a good football team. They'll probably do some things to us that the last two opponents have done. They're going to take advantage of a big, powerful offensive line. They love to run the football. They're going to see some things that Ole Miss and South Carolina have done to us where we're lining up with undersized people at linebacker. They're going to try to take advantage of that, I guarantee you."
On the performance of the linebackers to date:
"They're playing their ass off. They just don't have much back there. When we started in the spring, and this is kind of the numbers we had, we had three true linebackers. That was Jamal (White), Ronnie Riley and Ryan Murphy. Well, Ronnie's lost for the season, Ryan's flunked out and we've moved Mo Lane up from defensive back. And now Mo's been hurt. So you've got Chris Gayton, a strong safety type at 205 pounds, in there. And Jamal's not huge by any standards at 220. You've got a small guy like Patrick Wiggins in there. But how are they playing? They're playing hard, and they're giving everything they've got."
"I'll give you an example. Ole Miss lines up in the I-formation and they isolate --- the iso play --- at Chris Gayton and the match him up with a 245-pound fullback. They ran that 14 times during the game. Now, Chris is in there hunkered down and giving it everything he's got, but finally he just wears down. They're going to take advantage of that."
"But who do you play in there? I've got people telling me, 'Move Otis Grigsby to linebacker.' Well, Otis might help us stop the run, but Otis doesn't have the type of speed to get in coverage. He's kind of a 'tweener' guy. And he's our third best defensive end. We've got to leave him there to spell the defensive ends."
"It's kind of a mess from a personnel standpoint."
On if he imagined going into the season things could look so bad:
"No. But, yeah, from an offensive line standpoint. We went into the season with three guys (DeVaughn, Parrish, Hall) who were already walking wrecks. They were beat up to start with. That's why they've only been working one or two days a week. We're trying to keep them as healthy as we can. Nolan's been playing the last two weeks with that sublexed shoulder. Most people don't even realize that he's playing hurt."
"I think sometimes you go in wishful thinking that you're not going to have too many injuries, but in this league, as competitive as it is and as good and physical as the people we play are, injuries are just part of the game. If you don't have good, quality depth, it's going to take its toll on you. I think that's becoming very apparent with our ballclub right now."
On the playing status of cornerback Derek Tatum, who was benched after picking up a costly personal foul penalty in the first quarter against South Carolina:
"I'll get involved, but to what extent I don't know. I'll get with Rick Smith and John Goodner to ask them what's going on in the decision-making process. I'll leave it up to them. I know RIck comes across as a tough guy sometimes, but he's going to put his best people on the field."
"As far as Derek and that one particular situation, you've got to understand you have to keep your poise. It's always the guy who's last to retaliate that gets the flag. They've got to understand that. That's part of being a disciplined football team. As far as penalties and being disciplined, that's another thorn we're trying to deal with. Last year, we were the 11th-ranked team in the SEC in penalties, and we're trying to overcome that. We've done a good job up until the South Carolina game. We've been averaging between five and six at home. But we go on the road for our first road game and lose our focus. We get flagged 15 times, and most of it is just stupid stuff that we know better."
On coaching adjustments for this week's game:
"I think Rick (Smith) will come down out of the box and be down on the sideline to help make some defensive adjustments and see the kids as they come off (the field), especially some of those young cornerbacks. It would help them to see him as they come off the field."
"Basically, the same thing, we're going to do with Brent (Pease). We're going to put him down on the sideline so that when the quarterback comes off the field, he's right there, and he can make his point instantly, see the offense eyeball-to-eyeball. The thing I hear a lot of times with Brent is he's talking to somebody, Wesley or Harold, on the headsets. He's saying get me Shane on the headsets. And those guys are trying to coach the receivers and backs. So when he needs to make his point to the quarterback, he needs to have access to him immediately. If he's on the sideline, he'll be able to do that. He can also stay in touch with the receivers. He's kind of the guy who's in charge of the whole master plan. He likes it up there (in the box), but until we get things going and the kids comfortable with what we're doing, he needs to be down on the sideline."
On the assistant coaches' frame of mind, if frustration is setting in and affecting the job:
"I tell you what. Come spend the day with us. Set your clock for 5 o'clock (a.m.) and meet us all up here. Then we'll drop you off about 10 o'clock at night... They're coaching as hard as they can coach. They're good people and quality, professional coaches. They're frustrated for obvious reasons. But we're going to get it done... I try to be conscious about it and keep my energy level up every day I get up out of bed and come over here, which is actually pretty easy because I like what I'm doing. But you try to be up and let the kids feed off of that. I got a message from coach (Raymond) Berry last night to keep it up. He said you're the guy that the kids are looking to now for support and advice and answers. If I'm in the tank, they're going to be in the tank. So I make a conscious effort to stay up."