There was more news than usual out of Thursday’s news conference with Kentucky Coach Joker Phillips.
Running back CoShik Williams will not play on Saturday against Kent State as he battles back spasms. Missing a game is rare for Williams, who also saw lots of action on special teams last week as well.
“Guy’s a tough guy,” Phillips said. “The thing we have to have him for is the long haul, too. … We need CoShik full speed. He’s not a real big guy and he needs to be full speed. The guy busts his gut on every play, whether it’s in practice or pre-game, so we’ve got to make sure we take care of him and that we get him to the field healthy.”
In his place, Raymond Sanders will start and be backed up by fellow junior Jonathan George. Expect to see lots of true freshman Dyshawn Mobley as well.
The Cats also are pretty banged up at the hybrid linebacker/safety spot with Miles Simpson (bruised quad) seeing limited action and Josh Forrest (hip flexor) out completely. Expect to see junior college transfer Kory Brown get a lot of reps.
There will be a lot of new faces playing against the Golden Flashes on Saturday in the Cats’ home opener at Commonwealth Stadium, especially on defense. Previously, coaches had been nervous about playing true freshmen, but not now, Phillips said.
“Heck with that, let them play,” he said. “We’ve got to get them experience now.”
Especially on defense, Phillips said some of the freshmen will impress.
“There are talented guys,” he said. “These guys have equal or more talent as the guys in front of them, therefore we need to play them.”
When asked about some of the younger players, Phillips said many of them showed him a different side on game day, specifically calling out wide receivers DeMarcus Sweat and Daryl Collins as well as linebacker Pancho Thomas.
“Sweat’s on the sidelines screaming and yelling, cheering on the defense,” the coach said. “We’ve got to play those kind of guys. … You’ll see all of those guys.”