DEMAREE: Joker Phillips to get major test

Things just got more complicated for the offensive brain trust at UK, given the off the field developments of a couple of UK quarterback in recent days. What was a doable job of putting points on the board now becomes a little more complicated.

Offensive coordinator Joker Phillips, the next ‘head coach in waiting,' is faced with an opportunity to really show his offensive metal and to show the world some impending offensive genius. There is no waiver wire to choose from, you have to go for what you know.

The quarterbacking starter was to have been between Curtis Pulley and Michael Hartline with Will Fidler bringing up the rear. Depending on the outcome of the discipline situations, Michael Hartline could be free and clear to the starting position under center.

This development puts a much higher premium on the development of some receivers behind Dicky Lyons because Hartline is not nearly the threat with his feet as Pulley is. So if all else failed Pulley along with a stable of quality running backs could have move the ball down the field and into the end zone.

Should the UK fans have consternation with the threat of the quarterback-run taken away? Coach Phillips has an opportunity to fatten his coaching resume, given the challenge he has to put points on the board. Some short fields created will give a much-improved defense a big boost. "Joker is as qualified as anybody in the country to become a Division l head coach," Rich Brooks said at the SEC media days in Hoover, Alabama.

The recent development with the injury of Kyrus Lanxter's wrist that Brooks said was an old high school injury presents an even bigger problem for the receiving corps. Lanxter has a cast on the wrist that Brooks said will remain on until about 10-days before the Louisville game. Lanxter was one that was looked to provide the second receiving threat behind Lyons.

So how does Phillips provide the firepower needed to enhance the abilities of Hartline and keep defenses honest to enable the running game productivity? The first order of business is to have a good offensive line. Every good team starts with the offensive line. "The same statement I made last year and I'll say it again this year," Brooks said. "This will be the best offensive since I've been at Kentucky."

What manner of creativity will Phillips exhibit with his talented and versatile running back corp? Brooks said Tony Dixon is his most experienced back and if he kicks the ball security bug that cropped up on him last season, his receiving skills out of the back will be at a premium; not to mention his ability to run the football between the tackles. We harken back to the last winning drive against Georgia in 2006. Dixon looked magnificent plying his receiving and running skills on the Bulldogs in the major upset.

Kentucky is slated to have a strong tight end corps as well as very good fullbacks. In modern day offensive football, those two positions are vital to moving the ball in the running game and the short passing game, which parlays into moving the chains and ultimately into the end zone. Running backs coach Larry Brinson recently said in a talk show venue that his fullback John Conner would be seen on the next level. His talents were on display throughout the first half of last season. Brooks said Maurice Grinter is 100 percent good to go and those, who have taken notice, know that is a huge addition to the tight end corps. Grinter, T. C. Drake, Ross Bogue, Andre Henderson, and Tyler Sexton could be call on to share a larger load of the receiving responsibilities.

There is going to be enormous pressure for the offense to perform in order for the team to avoid falling back to non-bowl status. So, show your stuff Phillips because the "The Big Blue Nation" is watching attentively.

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