LEXINGTON KY - NOVEMBER 13: Joker Phillips the Head Coach of the Kentucky Wildcats takes in the action during the game against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Commonwealth Stadium on November 13 2010 in Lexington Kentucky. Kentucky won 38-20. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
ASOB: I personally do think Phillips was a good choice, although many Wildcat fans disagree. He is an outstanding recruiter and was largely responsible for the recruiting that produced the recent resurgence (up until this year) of Kentucky football. He has brought in several very good recruiting classes, and continues to do well in that area.
As far as X's and O's, he has basically continued what was being done under Brooks. Phillips believes in that system, and even though many fans think his personnel don't fit a conventional pro-set offense, that's what he believes in. Defensively, he brought in a new co-defensive coordinator to improve the defense, and it has improved, although not as much as hoped because the offense has been so impotent that the defense gets far too many snaps.
I'd say the jury is still out on how good an X's and 0's coach he is, but there is good reason for Kentucky fans to be skeptical.
ASOB: "Mixed bag?" Is that what you call the #115 passing offense in the nation? I think it would have been eminently fair for you to say that our quarterback has sucked, and so have our receivers, because that's the pure, objective truth.
Newton has honestly brought very little to the quarterback spot except athleticism. His long throws have been good, but everything else has been a catastrophe. He has been sacked for over 100 yards mostly due to the fact that he can't get rid of the ball fast enough. He runs pretty well, but that just doesn't make up for the rest of his issues.
Max Smith has had one good game, and he's a freshman. The threw for 170 yards in the most recent game, and did a good job of getting rid of the football timely and in places and at a pace where receivers could catch it and do some harm. He looked much better than Newton has at any point this year, and that alone gives us some hope for a repeat performance against Ole Miss. Unfortunately, he has one major drawback -- he is still a freshman.
ASOB: Josh Clemons was doing a good job at running back, but he's down for the year with a knee injury. We've already talked about what Max Smith has done, and we'll forget about the three opponent's touchdowns he was directly or indirectly responsible for prior to the MSU game. Darrian Miller was forced into service at right tackle when Billy Joe Murphy went down for several games, and he performed reasonably well for a freshman. D.J. Warren is a true freshman starter at fullback who has done a really good job in pass protection and run blocking as the year has gone on.
That accounts for most of the true freshmen who have seen significant contributions. We have five or six other frosh who serve as backups that have seen some time as well.
Offensively, I'd have to say D.J. Warren. He gets little publicity, but he has played well in long stretches, and will likely be a drop-in replacement for John "the Terminator" Conner in a year or so.
ASOB: I'm going to pick from the heart and say UK wins, 21-17. Defense rules for both sides, and a long drive by the Wildcats with a last-minute field goal is the difference.