Phillips was doing some extra work with a couple of offensive linemen, Garry Williams and Christian Johnson. This was a little out of the ordinary, as the position coach normally does extra work with his position players. The action was taken in the far corner, some distance away from the few remaining observers.
Suddenly, the characteristically mild mannered Phillips displayed unhappiness with the players, uncharacteristically becoming visibily animated with his anger. As he and the players walked towards us, the ranting Phillips cut it off approximately twenty yards from us. Williams and Johnson continued on out the door in route to the Nutter Practice Facility dressing room. The looks on their faces spoke many words – bewilderment, embarrassment, anger, determination, and maybe a few expletives of their own.
Coach Rich Brooks said in his Monday presser that Christian Johnson had his most productive game since he has been here, likewise for Garry Williams. Brooks said the offensive line as a whole had it's best game.
Since Jason Leger moved over from the defensive line, Brooks has used the word remarkable more than once when describing his play at the right offensive guard. Hence the reason for the Joker Phillips tirade seeking more production from two linemen who have more size, good feet and perhaps more ability. Leger and Trai Williams have simply outplayed the two since they have played alongside each other the last couple of games.
We asked Phillips if he felt the tirade brought about better production from the two guys on the left side? "No question," Phillips said. "After the Louisville game and after the Florida game we as coaches evaluated ourselves and we thought maybe we were asking too much of them. Then after those two games I decided we weren't asking enough out of those kids. I think that's something we need to start doing a little bit more of. They can do whatever you ask. It's all mental with those two guys. Both of them played their tails off. They both played their best games and this week we've got to ask a little bit more out of them. We can't think that we are asking too much of them."
Coach Phillips observed that the coaching staff needed to keep close reigns on these players. "They may physically look like men but they are 18 and 19-year olds. They will relax if you let them relax."
Garry Williams was continuously beaten by Florida's right-defensive end and we imagine the coaches expected better from him playing that all-important left tackle position. Perhaps this upcoming South Carolina match can be a defining moment for Williams and the rest of his o-line buddies. If not, Phillips -- and the rest of the coaching staff -- will be waiting.