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Former Kentucky coach hired to lead Florida receivers

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Posted: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 12:14 am

Joker Phillips has been hired as Florida’s wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator, the school announced on Monday. Phillips will begin recruiting on Friday.

Phillips was fired from his head coaching position at Kentucky last month after posting a 13-24 record in three seasons. Phillips coached wide receivers for 18 years between Kentucky, Cincinnati, Minnesota, Notre Dame and South Carolina before taking the head coaching job at UK.

“His background as a head coach and the number of years he has coached wide receivers will be a tremendous asset to our coaching staff and players,” UF coach Will Muschamp said. “Joker is obviously very familiar with the Southeastern Conference and has always done a great job in recruiting.”

Graduate assistant Bush Hamdan served as the Gators’ wide receivers coach this season after Aubrey Hill resigned in August.

Florida’s wideouts struggled in 2012, amassing 58 catches for 618 yards and 7 touchdowns as a group. Nationally, 133 receivers racked up more than 618 yards.

Quinton Dunbar led Florida with 306 receiving yards, tied for No. 395 nationally. Dunbar and Frankie Hammond Jr. were the only UF wideouts to tally more than two catches or 17 yards.

Bridgewater to test UF: Teddy Bridgewater played Louisville’s biggest game of the year in terrible physical shape. But he overcame his limitations to help the Cardinals earn the Big East title and a spot in the Sugar Bowl against the No. 4 Gators on Jan 2.

The 6-foot-3, 218-pound sophomore quarterback came off the bench with his team trailing 14-3 and threw two touchdown passes in a 20-17 conference title-clinching win against Rutgers on Thursday. He did so after suffering an injured left ankle and fractured non-throwing wrist just five days earlier in a triple-overtime loss to Connecticut.

“I was just ready, and I just had that feeling deep down inside,” Bridgewater told The Courier-Journal on Thursday. “If we were scoring points, I wouldn’t play at all.”

Bridgewater added that he was playing at just 70 percent.

Now, Bridgewater will have a chance to get healthy before the Cardinals make their first BCS bowl appearance since 2007.

Louisville coach Charlie Strong said the Cardinals’ training staff has done an “unbelievable job” with Bridgewater, and that the quarterback should be healthy by the bowl game.

Although Bridgewater was effective against the Scarlet Knights, Strong said the Miami native will not rush back to action at the start of bowl practice.

“We’ve got to be smart on how we handle it,” Strong said. “He’ll need rest, and how much rest? It will depend on just our medical staff.”

This season, Bridgewater has completed 69 percent of his passes for 3,452 yards and 25 touchdowns against just seven interceptions. He ranks eighth in the country with 8.9 yards per attempt and a 161.6 quarterback rating.

Florida coach Will Muschamp said Bridgewater’s accomplishments have been key for Louisville.

“That was a gutsy performance there the other night against Rutgers,” Muschamp said. “I didn’t see the whole game, but I saw parts of it.  Again, a guy that I know was very talented coming out of Miami, and certainly has done a fantastic job.”

Contact Greg Luca at [email protected] and Josh Jurnovoy at [email protected].

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