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Can Lynn Bowden Replicate Randall Cobb’s Success?

Former Kentucky wide receiver/quarterback/do-it-all man Randall Cobb is a Wildcat legend for several reasons, but none are more important than the time he took over as the primary quarterback during his freshman season.

Over 10 years later, Kentucky is once again facing a similar situation – one where a multi-talented wide-out might need to slide under center as the team’s “Swiss Army knife”. After five games in the 2019 season, junior Lynn Bowden Jr. is going to have to channel his inner Cobb as the Wildcats most dangerous offensive weapon.

But before we get into the discussion of the similarities between Bowden and Cobb, it’s important that we point out some key differences from that 2008 team coached by Rich Brooks compared to this 2019 version led by Mark Stoops.

The 2008 season started out with sophomore Mike Hartline as the starting quarterback, and as the season went along, he began to share quarterback responsibilities with Cobb. Cobb would eventually take over as the “official” starting quarterback for the last four games of the regular season. Hartline was not injured during this time, rather splitting duties with Cobb before Hartline started the final game of the season against East Carolina in the Liberty Bowl after Cobb was sidelined with an injury (UK named Hartline the Most Outstanding Offensive Player in that victory). That team didn’t lose it’s starting quarterback to an ACL injury (like with Terry Wilson) and didn’t bring in Cobb because the backup was also injured (like with Sawyer Smith). Cobb was simply just the best option the Wildcats could put on the field and it paid off – well, sort of.

Cobb threw for 542 yards as a freshman on 52-99 passing to go along with two touchdowns and five interceptions. In the four games he started at quarterback, Cobb threw four picks and one touchdown. Kentucky went 1-3 in those games with the lone win coming in a 14-13 nailbiter against the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Hartline did not play in two of those losses. None of this is to say that what Cobb did wasn’t amazing (because a true freshman coming in and switching to the most important position in the game during the middle of the season is nothing short of a miracle, plus, he added five rushing touchdowns on 56 attempts during that four-game stretch), but it’s important to note how different these two situations are before we get into comparisons. Kentucky didn’t have quite the overall talent on that 2008 roster that they do now. Cobb was a freshman splitting duties with the original starter. Bowden is a junior that might have to start at quarterback because there isn’t any other option.

Cobb didn’t play much quarterback for his remaining two seasons as Hartline assumed the starting position once again (Morgan Newton stepped in during Hartline’s junior season in 2009 while he missed six games with a knee injury). Instead, Cobb moved back to his natural position at wide receiver (mixed in with plenty of reps as the running back) and went on to earn more accolades and honors during his sophomore and junior seasons than most Wildcat football players could ever hope to see. Over the course of the 2009-2010 seasons, Cobb threw the ball only 23 times, completing 10 of them for 147 yards, three touchdowns, and zero interceptions.

But back to Bowden, who finds himself in an entirely different situation than Cobb. In Saturday night’s embarrassing road loss to the South Carolina Gamecocks, Bowden threw the ball only twice, completing both passes for seven total yards. During his roughly two-and-a-half seasons at Kentucky, Bowden has thrown a total of nine passes for six completions, 131 yards, no touchdowns, and two picks. At this point in his college career, Cobb had already thrown the ball over 100 times, most of Bowden’s reps at quarterback have ended in running plays. So the burning question is this: can Bowden replicate what Cobb was able to do?

If he can continue to do things like this, on top of being a realistic threat as a passer, we might already have our answer.

There is no denying that Bowden is an elite athlete. He’s the team’s top returner, the most dangerous threat with the ball in his hands, and shiftier than almost any player in college football. He meets the prerequisites of what it takes to mirror Cobb’s talents and production. But again, we are dealing with completely different situations here. Luckily, the Cats are facing a bye week before taking on the Arkansas Razorbacks – a game that no one thought would end up being a “must-win.” There is time to game plan and get Sawyer Smith back into a reasonably healthy form. No matter how well Bowden plays, he can’t do everything for the Cats and still expect to win. Cobb needed help from Hartline, Dicky Lyons, Tony Dixon, Alfonso Smith, Moncell Allen, and Derrick Locke to make it all work.

The beauty of that is Kentucky has the talent outside of Bowden. AJ Rose and Kavosiey Smoke both average over five yards per run as the primary backs. Josh Ali has been consistent and Ahmad Wagner is basically a cheat code at this point as one of the most efficient receivers in all of football. The receiving core just can’t keep dropping passes. Plus the offensive line has been steady outside of the SC game and has done an overall solid job of protecting whoever is dropping back in the pocket. Bowden will have the opportunity to succeed. He led Kentucky on the only drive of the night that resulted in a touchdown. We just don’t know for sure yet how good of a passer Bowden actually is.

“He knows every position. The reason why we can move Lynn around is because he knows everything,” Eddie Gran said in regards to Bowden following Saturday night’s loss. “He’ll know where they’re supposed to be. That’s the really good thing about him. He’s gonna know a concept. If he’s that guy and we expand that right there, then you do that. He was pretty electric when he was back there. It’s what he did in high school. It’s not just hitches. He throws the deep ball well. He can throw inside, he can throw a dig, so I think his package can certainly be expanded.”

Is Bowden going to be asked to do too much? If Smith isn’t ready to go against Arkansas, how much responsibility will Bowden be tasked with? *Side note: if the coaching staff was that reluctant to play Walker Wood despite everything that happened on Saturday, that’s all you need to know about the third-stringer.* The constant threat of playing out of the Wildcat keeps defenses on edge, but only if the initiator has enough energy to do so for an entire game. Bowden is a top-tier athlete, but like everyone else, he has his limits. I have a feeling we might soon find how far those limits reach.

Cobb was a once-in-a-generation type player. Bowden needs to be for the sake of Kentucky’s 2019 season.

Article written by Zack Geoghegan

Covering all things NBA and UK Hoops. Follow me on Twitter: @ZGeogheganKSR

56 Comments for Can Lynn Bowden Replicate Randall Cobb’s Success?



  1. kjd
    2:09 pm September 29, 2019 Permalink

    Bowden is not a every down QB. Passing skills are just not there.



    • KYFAN4LYFE
      2:50 pm September 29, 2019 Permalink

      Sawyer is not a every down QB. Passing skills are just not there.



    • kjd
      8:59 pm September 29, 2019 Permalink

      Not since he got hurt. Prior to injury, yes he was.



    • CatsNationBBN
      11:51 pm September 29, 2019 Permalink

      kyfan4lyfe is 100% right



    • shelby3605
      8:01 am September 30, 2019 Permalink

      CatsnationBBN i think we should give sawyer a chance to get healthy. Before we pass too much judgement.



    • StuckinLville
      12:49 pm September 30, 2019 Permalink

      Clearly you weren’t watching his first couple of game before he injured his arm. Looked pretty accurate until then.



    • shelby3605
      8:00 am September 30, 2019 Permalink

      Kjd u may be right, but I don’t know if we’ve seen him throw enough to make that call. I need to see him get some throws after a week of practicing at QB. That being said i prefer sawyer get healthy or walker wood step in because i think Lynn’s talents are best utilized getting the ball out in space.



  2. runningunnin.454
    2:42 pm September 29, 2019 Permalink

    Oh, for cryin’ out loud, you can’t take your best receiver and put him behind the line at QB. He has to be in open space to spread the field.
    That seemed an act of desperation and “shucks we just don’t know what to do”, and we scored only because S Car had the 3rd string defense out there.
    We recruited Gilmore and Wood; put one of them out there…can’t be any worse than last night’s debacle.
    Maybe they could hold it together til SS is healthy; he’s taking a lot of heat; but, he looked good until he was injured. Playing him when obviously injured was poor judgment.



    • east-ky-boy
      2:52 pm September 29, 2019 Permalink

      I agree with everything you just said



    • TOMCATS1990
      3:08 pm September 29, 2019 Permalink

      This^^^^^^



    • JerryCat
      3:11 pm September 29, 2019 Permalink

      Matt Roark and Lynn Bowden disagree



    • makeitstop
      3:19 pm September 29, 2019 Permalink

      Absolutely right. Take ur best player out of position? Brilliant. We hv two other QBs healthy. We recruited them. We gave them scholarships. They’re healthy. Literally it cannot get worse.



    • bennybbn
      6:33 pm September 29, 2019 Permalink

      We recruited wood as an athlete hoping he would change positions and he never wood, wish we could put Gilmore back there but he didn’t show up until fall, scalzo is hurt, Sawyer can’t even lift his elbow above his shoulder, there are not many options left



    • kjd
      9:07 pm September 29, 2019 Permalink

      Wood was set to come in at the end, helmet on, throwing on sideline, standing with the offense. Then we they took the field, it was Bowden. Camera cut to Wood removing his helmet. It was obvious he wasn’t happy.
      With that said, Stoops keeps saying Wood has had two shoulder surgeries, so I guess he can’t throw the ball.



    • BlueWho
      6:20 pm September 30, 2019 Permalink

      What good is he as WR if we dont have a QB who can get it to him?



  3. Hot Stuff Eddie Gilbert
    2:59 pm September 29, 2019 Permalink

    Bowden will be injured within 2 or 3 games if he is the QB. And we will have no QB and no play maker.



  4. TOMCATS1990
    3:12 pm September 29, 2019 Permalink

    If Bowden is our QB the rest of the way we may win 1 more game. Sawyer Smith is the best option to win games when healthy. Gran and the play calling has steadily gotten worse the past 2 1/2 games



    • Alex90
      12:15 pm September 30, 2019 Permalink

      Their 0-3 record with Smith doesn’t back this up



  5. CombatMedic_98
    3:14 pm September 29, 2019 Permalink

    Gosh…can we get HOAK aback…!?



    • 4everUKblue
      3:45 pm September 29, 2019 Permalink

      LMAO! What took you so long. Gunnar Hoax is only marginally better that Smith.



  6. CombatMedic_98
    3:27 pm September 29, 2019 Permalink

    Hoak might have got the last laugh here…



    • 4everUKblue
      3:46 pm September 29, 2019 Permalink

      He did, he left before being completely exposed.



    • samodamo
      11:23 am September 30, 2019 Permalink

      So is anyone up to your standard 4ever? You act like LB is the greatest thing tht has happened and everyone else is just decent or not good at all. You should re-evaluate your judgement!! LB is not and will not be the answer!!



    • Bluehender
      6:30 pm September 29, 2019 Permalink

      Good one 4ever..



    • 4everUKblue
      11:50 am September 30, 2019 Permalink

      sam I never said LBJ was the answer, but he’s way better at what he does that Gunnar Hoax is at what he does. I never implied that anyone was not good or decent with exception of Hoax and Smith, but nice attempt a putting your words as my comments. I’m a fan of LBJ, he has made many big plays and I enjoy watching him play, if you want to hate on him go ahead, but it is you who should re-evaluate your judgement bro.



  7. wildcats8
    3:56 pm September 29, 2019 Permalink

    Sawyer “Sorry” Smith needs to trade in his jersey for some pom poms whether that means Wood taking the snaps or Bowden taking the snaps I don’t care. Smith is a bum 3.8 passer rating yesterday is all the proof that is needed he has no concept of how little time he has in the pocket versus SEC defenses.



  8. jaws2
    5:08 pm September 29, 2019 Permalink

    What I believe is that this coaching staff either cannot evaluate and get an SEC middle or top tier QB, has lost a couple that may have been, or in no way can coach them up to be such. God bless Sawyers ability to take a punch, but is not an SEC QB. Please, someone tell me which QB has been such since Stoops arrived.
    Last nights game was a complete disaster. We can’t tackle, play man to man coverage, or throw the football. I’ll be there for the next game but I can’t envision dramatic improvement.



  9. timgriffith2001
    5:26 pm September 29, 2019 Permalink

    Sawyer was doing great until he got into the game with Florida and got hit once or twice by an “sec” players and he has became scared. He was good up until that pick in the Florida game and hasn’t been any good since.



    • kjd
      9:03 pm September 29, 2019 Permalink

      Yes, he has struggled since the INT when he injured his throwing wrist on the TD saving tackle. Now he’s got a bum shoulder. You seem to be clueless concerning injuries.



    • samodamo
      11:18 am September 30, 2019 Permalink

      Yes the kid is tough as they come, I agree totally



  10. season-3-disc-2
    5:39 pm September 29, 2019 Permalink

    It’s Basketball time in the bluegrass.



  11. Wildcat Gifts
    5:48 pm September 29, 2019 Permalink

    The season is what it is and for me is no indication good or
    bad regarding the future of Wildcat Football.

    The only indicator for the future is the track record of Mark Stoops.
    The numbers are the numbers.

    We don’t need to forget we lost our starting QB.

    Bowden was a good high school QB.

    Sawyer is playing hurt.

    This is a great week for a break. The coaching staff has two weeks to figure
    out what makes sense for the rest of the season and the future. Based upon
    their track record, I believe that is exactly what they will do.



    • Skooms
      8:07 pm September 29, 2019 Permalink

      Amen



    • T-Town Cat
      8:15 pm September 29, 2019 Permalink

      You make too much sense to be on this thread.



  12. timgriffith2001
    10:31 pm September 29, 2019 Permalink

    If you’re injured and can’t perform and see that you can’t do your job than you need to tell the coaches that you’re not 100 percent and that someone else should be in there. Playing the way he has in the last few games has hurt the team and himself by not playing well for the team and not getting the rest he needs to get well. They could have brought in a young qb and got him some experience while he rested and healed and maybe won a game or two.



    • timgriffith2001
      10:38 pm September 29, 2019 Permalink

      They need to learn the basics of tackling again, if you’re to try and strip the ball make sure someone else has ahold of the ball carrier so he didn’t drag you an extra 10 yards before everyone gets there to gang tackle them. Worry about the tackle before the strip because you give up way to many yards trying to strip the ball away.



  13. BluKudzu
    1:28 am September 30, 2019 Permalink

    We just played, back to back, 2 of the worst defenses in the league and our offense could not move the ball.

    Sawyer Smith is not the answer, injured or not. It is not his fault. He just is not an RPO qb. Our entire offense is built around the RPO. That is why our OL looks so bad. Now they have to pass block essentially for a pocket passer. Just not their game.

    The real slap in the face, and you better get used to it, we need to score 5 to 6 touchdowns per game to be competitive with our total lack of defense. We played 2 of the worst SEC offenses (not called UK) the past two weekends and they put up over 20 both games.

    So to you that say at least we are better than when Joker was here, I have to laugh.

    Anemic offense, requiring us to use a receiver at coach, and a bad defense. Add coaches that have not got a clue, and puts an unprepared team on the field, 9 players ….twice….

    Please convince me the team this year is different from Joker’s.

    Then look at the money and assets Stoops has had vs comparatively nothing for Joker. About even I would say.

    Seriously, years 1-4, I get this happening. Not now. Not this year.

    I feel bad for Sawyer. I just do.

    Go Cats.



    • kjd
      6:03 am September 30, 2019 Permalink

      We don’t have an answer left at QB.



  14. cats646
    7:15 am September 30, 2019 Permalink

    Hell, I’ll come try out for QB. I’ve got a better arm than Hoak did lol. And I’m definitely more accurate than an injured Smith. Also, FIRE EDDIE GRAN!!!!



  15. bbn606
    7:43 am September 30, 2019 Permalink

    Bowden is not a QB. Play Wood, beef up the running game with some play action passes and go with it.



  16. dave1964
    8:27 am September 30, 2019 Permalink

    If these coaches put Bowden behind center just shows their ignorance he will be out with a injury in tow or three games, our defense lost this game and actually the only thing that looked good Sat was thenpunter that includes the coaches



  17. AreJ
    8:31 am September 30, 2019 Permalink

    I just wanted to point out something, with SS hurt he simply can’t do certain things(accurately deliver the football down field/put it in a tight window) and the coaches don’t trust him to do a few things(throw over the middle) our offense is severely limited. I like what he showed when healthy because the Defense had to play honest, with that being said our team is built to RPO but lean on the QB to open up the field more and SS just can’t do that. If he can’t play or can’t play effectively I think Lynn actually fits that scheme well. We will try to play more like last year and if you can’t get Lynn the ball with your QB you have to get it in his hand however possible. I still think for the same kind of reason WW if he is healthy will get a look over the next week. I know the staff says he isn’t ready but they could also just be hiding Gilmore, maybe make teams forget him and not know anything about him and use him in 4 games to save the Red Shirt.



  18. AreJ
    8:35 am September 30, 2019 Permalink

    Also I know SCs Defense isn’t that good but basically gambled all game we wouldn’t throw over the middle and blitzed and brought extra run support over the middle. They keyed in on inside runs and boundary passing, sound like a familiar game plan? Give a desperate WM and SC team credit for doing their homework and playing like they wanted it more.



  19. jinjerita
    9:20 am September 30, 2019 Permalink

    While the numbers were great for Randall I’m not sure 1 of 3 wins is the record we are looking for and I’m not sure that’s success. That would have us winning 2.6 games out of 8. Not bowl eligible with that



  20. BlueByYou
    10:04 am September 30, 2019 Permalink

    Why was Wood recruited if you don’t plan to play him. What the hell are you saving him for? So he’ll have more eligibility at the next school he plays for! All have said,anything would have been better than an obviously hurt and struggling Smith. No blame on Smith, actually like what he brings when healthy, BUT…..Wood is a QB, if he’s not ‘ready’ to play, whatever that means, that is on the coaches. Saturday night was the most vivid example I’ve seen ..EVER, in watching UK football, of coaches being ill prepared and not reacting. They did not get this team ready to play and they were too stubborn (or stupid) to recognize anything was better than an injured QB. What are you saving Wood for…..he’ll be gone next year for sure. Don’t blame him either. Anyone on here tell me they were not pleading during that game Saturday for the coaches to do something different! Anything……a lot sooner than with 3 minutes left too! I love these coaches for the most part, but they have their collective head up their ar$e$ when it comes to game decisions, adjustments and basic common sense.



    • SwineyTodd
      9:04 pm September 30, 2019 Permalink

      “anything was better than an injured QB…”

      Kind of hard to argue with that, particularly with the increasing risk of permanent injury to the young man.

      Maybe we can get Bill Self to call-up Derrick Ramsey for us as a “grad transfer” backup option, just to see how Arkansas likes the look of that ol’ Veer T formation. ‘Course, Ramsey’s probably injured as well…



  21. JoshtheCATSfan
    10:10 am September 30, 2019 Permalink

    Some of you are such negative pieces of crap. We had all the pieces to be an above average football team this year with a very favorable schedule. Absolutely lost 2 guys to injury that we could not lose. We are now a below average football team playing against a stacked box. How can the coaches be to blame for injuries. If Scalzo didn’t get hurt he would be playing right now and we would at least have a chance. Coaches can’t help that players leave when they do not get the playing time they feel they deserve. Just stop already!!!! it is a tough year but these guys are young. The future is very bright right now for UK!!!!!



    • BlueByYou
      10:17 am September 30, 2019 Permalink

      not the kids fault at all…..but you are full of crap if you say you did not want the coaching staff to try something else Saturday. They kept riding a lame horse when every one with half a brain knew we were gonna get the same results. Future is bright, but these coaches have to grow, learn and improve also!



  22. samodamo
    11:16 am September 30, 2019 Permalink

    What LB needs to work on is finish running is routes or maybe run the correct route!!! He is not a QB he’s barely a WR. The hype on him is so much more than what he actually does. So there is no way he will be able to do what Cobb done for this team. If he would quit trying so hard to being the man it would possibly work for him. Don’t get me wrong Smith needs some work and rest as well but IMO LB is not the answer, if he were Smith would have never been starting!!!



    • 4everUKblue
      11:53 am September 30, 2019 Permalink

      LMAO! Go ahead and make excuses for Smith and for the record I never said or believed that LBJ should be the QB but it’s pretty clear Smith is not the answer either. And Gunnar Hoax sure as hell is not and never was the answer. You’re just another LBJ hater and that’s OK troll.



    • 4everUKblue
      12:13 pm September 30, 2019 Permalink

      Not sure what games you’ve been watching but LBJ has been one of the few players making plays this season and made several big plays last season. He’s made some mistakes but name on player at any level who hasn’t.



    • samodamo
      2:48 pm September 30, 2019 Permalink

      By making plays running wrong routes, quit running the route not a hater of LB. I see him not helping the team at all. What does he do honestly. Catch the try to juke everything tht gets in the way for a whopping 1 yard. Lol. I mean it hilarious how everyone is all over this dude!! Smith makes mistakes as well he’s been there for 5 months. LB shouldn’t be making the same mistakes he did as a freshman. I wish he would do something we need him too



  23. StuckinLville
    12:47 pm September 30, 2019 Permalink

    He shouldn’t have to. Why the hell arent the using Walker Wood? I mean is he that terrible they cant even give him a chance? Or what about Gilmore or whatever his name is. Lots of true freshmen play and play well. If i was Wood I’d just quit. Let them fine someone else to give out hand signals if that’s all they want him for.



  24. Thetruthshallsetbennyfree
    3:40 pm September 30, 2019 Permalink

    A qb that athletic running an rpo/option scheme will get out in space alot. If he can hit the soft spots in zones a team can’t defend it. If Kentucky stacks one side of the field with receivers while playing out of shotgun it will allow him to have more passing options against and more blockers then defenders on option plays. Against man it let’s them use crossing routes to give him easy 1-1 throws or take off and run it for 20 on the open side of the field. The option also works against man from this formation because if the stack everyone over the receivers he can hand it off for a big run. If they put a defender over the edge and the guy guarding the RB over him it gives an absolute burner at qb a hat on a hat blocking with room to get momentum. Against both styles of defense the option can also be set up where the RB goes up the middle if there’s not enough defenders or Bowden can keep it to run to the more favorable edge.



  25. SGD
    7:45 pm September 30, 2019 Permalink

    The stats don’t support your opinion of Cobb. He was 1-3 as the starter. If Bowden were to replicate Cobbs success, we will only win 2 more games at best. Why would you want to replicate that?



  26. Jesus H. Chrysler
    8:26 pm September 30, 2019 Permalink

    Hell NO he can’t & wont. It’s the freakin’ SEC..play ur QB1, QB2, QB3 or QB4, not WR1. Ol’ Stoops has got caught with his khakis down by not coaching up & developing his QBs.

    Wonder what QB Coach Hinshaw has to say about WW or Mani Gilmore getting the call?

    SEC defenses will stack the box and crush us. With Bowden at QB they’ll dare him to throw.