UF's Phillips won't work with receivers in bowl
Published: Monday, December 17, 2012 at 3:50 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, December 17, 2012 at 3:50 p.m.
New Florida wide receivers coach Joker Phillips will not be coaching the UF receivers during pre-bowl practices and in the Sugar Bowl against Louisville. But he will be observing and evaluating them.
“I told the receivers, ‘You've got a month audition. You have 15 practices to go play really well and give a great first impression for your future position coach,' “ UF coach Will Muschamp said Monday.
Phillips, the former head coach at Kentucky who has vast experience coaching wide receivers, is already on the job at UF, recruiting (before the dead period began Monday), breaking down tape and attending practices. But he won't take over the receivers until after the bowl game.
Graduate assistant Bush Hamdan will coach the receivers through the Sugar Bowl. He's held that responsibility since wide receivers coach Aubrey Hill unexpectedly stepped down just before the start of preseason camp in early August.
“I just felt like from a knowledge standpoint (he should), and he deserves it,” Muschamp said. “He's a guy that's been here. He's done an outstanding job. And him not getting hired didn't have anything to do with what he has or has not done.
“He's done a really good job for us, and he's a really good football coach.”
Muschamp said Phillips is, too, and he has more than 20 years of experience coaching wide receivers at the collegiate level. He's also been an offensive coordinator and head coach.
He brings a lot to an area where the Gators are hoping to improve dramatically in 2013. During the 2012 season, the UF receivers have struggled with consistency and production. Quinton Dunbar leads the wide receivers in receptions with only 31, followed by Frankie Hammond Jr. with only 20.
“Well, we just need to play better,” Muschamp said. “Obviously, I think Bush did an outstanding job this year. You continue to evolve in the second year and you ought to take steps forward in the second year of an offense and the terminology and the different things we've asked our guys to do.
“They certainly will be more familiar next year.”
At the same time, the receivers will be getting familiar with a new coach.
Phillips became Muschamp's No. 1 target during a telephone conversation between the two shortly after Kentucky fired Phillips in November with one game left in his third season as the Wildcats head coach.
“Obviously, it was unfortunate when he was let go there at Kentucky,” Muschamp said. “I called him and just told him I was thinking about him. As I continued to talk and think through it, I thought he would fit, if that's what he wanted to do.
“You never know how someone will respond in those situations, whether they want to take a year off, or they want to get away for a little bit. I asked him point blank, ‘Would you be interested in coaching the Gators?' He said. ‘I would, absolutely.' So, pretty easy.”
Muschamp said Phillips is a high-character guy and a good fit on the coaching staff who will have a positive impact on the receivers.
“The more research I did, the more pleasing it was to hear about him as a person,” Muschamp said. “The more you talk to people, you talk about integrity and the type of person he is and what he stands for. There's no chink in the armor as far as I'm concerned.
“Since he's been here, he's been outstanding. Here's another guy that's also been coaching receivers for over 20 years and he's also been a playcaller. I think that's always good.
“I always felt more comfortable as a defensive coordinator when I had guys in the room that had sat in my chair. A lot of people don't like that. They're insecure about having people in that room that have sat in the chair.”
Muschamp said offensive coordinator Brent Pease is not one of those insecure guys who will feel threatened by Phillips' presence.
“I like having guys that have been there and understand how you've got to think and the big picture offensively,” Muschamp said. “Brent embraced it, obviously, and our entire offensive staff (has). So, he's been a great addition.”
Muschamp said he does not anticipate Phillips having any issues over going back to being a position coach after being a head coach the past three years.
“That says something about him as a person,” Muschamp said. “He just wants to be a football coach and affect young people's lives in a very positive way.
“That's exactly what he told me and I've seen nothing but that since he's been here. Again, I'm thrilled to have him as part of our staff.”
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.