Time to put a bow on the Cats’ big 63-28 win over the boys from Bowling Green. Let’s go.
—The story of the game, as it usually is, was Randall Cobb. He was incredible once again, throwing, catching and returning a punt for a touchdown. Had he played just one snap on defense, odds are good he would have found a way to get in the end zone while he did it. The three TD’s tie him for second on the all-time list at UK with 27, only five behind Craig Yeast. Every time he gets the ball, which can never be enough, you think something great is about to happen. Cobb simply is too good for words. The legend continues.
–Once again, Derrick Locke was the force he has to be for this Kentucky team to reach huge heights. 21 carries for 110 yards and a touchdown. He is the ultimate complement to Cobb, and I couldn’t imagine trying to prepare for the pair. They’re scary good.
—Equally impressive tonight was Mike Hartline. He completed 16-of-20 for 213 yards and 3 touchdowns, showing good touch on a couple throws and even ran in a score, really leaving little to complain about. With the dynamic duo doing most of the heavy lifting for the offense, Hartline doesn’t have to be spectacular. But if he is as good as he was tonight, Kentucky will have a chance to win any game.
–Helping Hartline out a great deal was the performance by virtually every pass catcher in the game. Of course Cobb was great, notching a career high in receiving yards with 98, but everyone else stepped up as well. La’Rod King snagged a touchdown, Chris Matthews had multiple good catches and got in the end zone, and Matt Roark had 65 yards on three catches. Combined with Jordan Aumiller playing better at tight end and Locke being a threat out of the backfield, the Cats seem to have weapons all over the field. Eight different players caught a pass in the game, a performance the likes of which will make Mike Hartline’s job much easier in the future.
–Speaking of pass-catchers, it was great to see Moncell Allen get in the end zone. The turtle has embraced the move to fullback and it was good for his work to be rewarded with a pass from Randall Cobb for six. His tailback skills can be a real asset in short yardage and around the goal line, and any time he gets the ball I’m all for it.
–For as good as the offense looked, the defense looked quite different. Different enough that I don’t know why I wrote that they were “solid in general” a little while ago. Like the game against Louisville, the run defense was suspect, giving up too many big plays and allowing Western to rack up over 180 yards. Perhaps even more disconcerting were the long touchdown drives the defense gave up in the second half, and the special teams wasn’t much better in giving up a kickoff return touchdown. All in all the mental focus and execution from the two areas were lacking, to put it nicely. Mistakes like that are fine against Western and fixable for the future, but giving up those kind of big plays against teams that won’t allow you 63 points simply won’t get it done.
–The Hilltoppers were game, and I have to say that after seeing Bobby Rainey play I’m a believer. He went for over 150 yards against a major conference team for the second straight week and seems every bit as good as advertised. I’m impressed.
Overall a win to be happy with for Kentucky as Joker becomes the first UK coach since Bear Bryant to start his career 2-0. While the defense has to learn from their mistakes, the offense is coming along and a lot of guys are stepping up to make plays. There’s just one more chance to tune up before the Cats head to Gainesville, as Akron will visit Commonwealth next Saturday to provide the last test before conference play. I’ll leave you this evening with the SEC scoreboard for the day. Someone, although I can’t tell you who, will be along to take you through your Sunday. Come back and see us.
Alabama 24 Penn State 3
Florida 38 South Florida 14
Arkansas 31 Louisiana-Monroe 7
South Carolina 17 Georgia 6
Oregon 48 Tennessee 13
Ole Miss 27 Tulane 13