VAUGHT: Phillips has a plan that makes sense

Perception basically is in the eye of the beholder. So if UK players and fans think new offensive coordinator Joker Phillips has a magical touch that will cure the Wildcats' offensive woes, that's fine with him.

"Perception is huge with fans, but it also helps with players," said Phillips. "We are going to run some of the same plays as last year, but we are calling it a little different. By doing that, the players think the plays have a better chance to work.

"It helps when you change offenses if you change terminology. The players think they have a new offense, but all you have done is basically expand on the old offense. But just having players believe what you are doing is going to work is half the battle. If they don't believe, you are not going to succeed."

So when Phillips talks about his new offense, few are disturbed when he notes that one goal is to run for 200 yards per game. What if Ron Hudson had said the same thing last year when he was offensive coordinator? Most of us would have thought he was stuck in that same boring plan that produced one of the nation's least productive offenses.

But Phillips can talk about a running game because he has an overall plan that seems to make sense. He's not going to have quarterback Andre Woodson run the option. He's going to let him throw the ball around the field to a bevy of talented receivers because he knows his job is to make sure his system fits the talent he has, something Hudson didn't always do.

"That's exactly what I have to do," Phillips said of using UK's talent. "We have a good quarterback who we feel can be a great dropback passer. That is what we have to do. We want to give him a chance to be successful."

But can Woodson and the Cats really be successful or is that only wishful thinking?

"In close losses, probably about five plays make the difference in winning and losing. In our first year here, one play in the Florida and Arkansas games could have given us a win. Last year if we blocked that punt against Alabama we had all the momentum and might have won. I try to stress over and over to our team that you have to play every play like it could be the play that wins the game," Phillips said.

"At times last year it did look like we had (offensive) problems. But we got headed in the right direction at the end of the year. If we don't turn the football over, we can be a good team. Our deal is to grind out wins. We have talked to the offense about being physical, do what they do best and take care of the ball. If we do that, we will grind out some fourth-quarter wins."

And wouldn't that do wonders for changing the perception of UK football.


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