2011 was not a good year for second year coach Joker Phillips and his Kentucky Wildcats. Joker lost Randall Cobb, Mike Hartline and Derrick Locke and the team struggled all year to replace their production. Kentucky finished the season dead last in the SEC in points scored and passing yards and finished second to last in rushing yards. That's not a recipe for success and that's how it translated on the field.
Kentucky started out 3-5 with their three wins coming against Western Kentucky, Central Michigan and Jacksonville State. It took until November 5th for the Wildcats to get their first win against Ole Miss. The very next week the Cats got buried by Vanderbilt by 30 points. 2011 was not a year that Joker Phillips will remember fondly but he did send the fans out on a good note as his Wildcats beat the Tennessee Volunteers in the finale. We caught up with Derrick Stacy of Sports at Work to get his take on the 2011 season and take a brief glimpse into 2012.
CFBZ: Joker Phillips has only been the Head Coach at Kentucky for two years but he started feeling some hot seat pressure towards the end of this season. How do you feel about Joker Phillips?
Derrick Stacy: From an analyst perspective, Joker has struggled mightily to retain the status quo that was developed during the Rich Brooks era, something that should not occur with a "coach-in-waiting." As a fan, I appreciate the victories over USC and UT; however, the team lacks the desire and discipline needed to be a factor in the SEC race. Joker must return to a bowl game next season (a daunting task with a difficult schedule) or he will be shown the door, plain and simple. Another 4-5 win season and lack of improvement throughout the season will be devastating to a program that was trying to turn the corner.
CFBZ: The Wildcats used an interesting offense in their final game at Tennessee as they used Senior WR Matt Roark at QB. Where will Kentucky turn next season at QB?
Derrick Stacy: Joker developed an inexplicable love for Morgan Netwon and it nearly cost him his job in 2011--the offense improved tremendously with Max Smith under center. Smith should enter the season as the starter, but keep an eye on incoming freshman Patrick Towles. Towles possesses the skill set needed to be an SEC caliber QB.
CFBZ: Next season, Kentucky loses Senior LB Danny Trevathan to the NFL. During his time in Lexington he was a tackling machine. How badly will Kentucky miss him next year?
Derrick Stacy: Losing Trevathan, along with Winston Guy, will be a devastating blow to Rick Minter's defense. As you stated, Trevathan was a tackling machine and was the heart and sole of the UK defense. Minter will have a tall task in finding someone to replace that production. Alvin Dupree, who will be a sophomore, appears to be the most likely candidate to become a difference maker on the defensive side of the ball.
CFBZ: What is the lasting memory you will have of this season?
Derrick Stacy: The Tennessee victory, without a doubt. The 2011 season was forgettable, to say the least; however, watching Matt Roark lead the Wildcats to victory over UT will be a moment that all fans remember.
CFBZ: Which players are you most looking forward to watching next year?
Derrick Stacy: Patrick Towles and Josh Clemons, the future of the UK backfield. Towles and Clemons both possess SEC caliber skill sets and their production and improvement could save the job of CJP.
Previous 2011 Exit Surveys
ACC- Miami Hurricanes
Big East- Syracuse Orange, UConn Huskies
Big Ten- Minnesota Golden Gophers