Cobb Creates Controversy

By: Steve Moss
By: Steve Moss

Rich Brooks doesn't want to hear about a quarterback controversy. He insists that both Mike Hartline and Randall Cobb will play against Middle Tennessee, but the coach admitted he didn't know who would start against the Blue Raiders next Saturday.

Rich Brooks doesn't want to hear about a quarterback controversy.  He insists that both Mike Hartline and Randall Cobb will play against Middle Tennessee, but the coach admitted he didn't know who would start against the Blue Raiders next Saturday.

Apparantly, the coach has a decision to make following the win over Norfolk State.  That's because after UK's first two offensive possessions ended with punts, Brooks inserted Cobb for Hartline and the true freshman provided a spark. 

Cobb's first three series produced touchdowns, including a sensational 18-yard touchdown run by Cobb, followed by a perfectly thrown TD pass to Dicky Lyons, Jr.

Brooks said Cobb's appearance under center was scripted.  The coach said Cobb was due in late in the first quarter, or early in the second, but after UK's first two possessions, decided to put him in the game sooner.

To be fair, Hartline responded in the second half, leading the Wildcats to three scoring drives.  After the game, UK offensive coordinator Joker Phillips announced he was pleased with how Hartline responded.

Brooks sounded off, too.  The fans at Commonwealth Stadium drew the ire of the coach, after a loud chorus of boos was showered upon Hartline as he took the field to start the third quarter.  "It makes me sick to my stomach," Brooks said of the booing.  "We don't need to be booing our own damn players."

The quarterbacks are a little less animated about the situation.  Both players acknowledge each other's strengths and are comfortable splitting playing time. 

"Whatever's best for this offense, epecially for this team.  I can bring in something special and, at the same time, Michael can bring in something special, too," Cobb said afterward.

"I definately trust our coaches and I'm never going to be upset with any decision they make. I still have to come out in practice and prove I'm the starter and prove that I'm the guy that wants the ball in tight situations.  Randall is definately going to be in there to make plays for us," Hartline said.

While he wouldn't name a starter for the next game, Brooks said he wouldn't hesitate to replace whomever is under center.  "If we're not moving the ball, we'll shake it up.  If I had my druthers, I'd rather not do that.  But that's where we are right now."

Dominant Defense

When asked if he knew the Wildcat defense would be this good, this early, Brooks reminded media members that he predicted his squad would be the best defensive unit he'd had at UK.  The Cats have been as good as advertised.

After shutting out Louisville, the Wildcats held Norfolk State to a field goal, although Brooks credited his offense for those points (following a Cobb fumble).  Not since 1958 had the Cats not given up a touchdown through its first two games.

Before the season, Brooks said despite the loss of Wesley Woodyard, the Cats would be improved on defense, especially at linebacker.  So far, he's been right.  The Cats are exceptionally quick on defense.  It's been a long time since UK fans have seen this kind of closing speed on that side of the line of scrimmage.

Clubhouse leader

My MOP through two weeks?  How 'bout Tim Masthay.  In two games, the senior from Murray has been outstanding.  He single-handedly has put both Louisville and Norfolk State in deep holes on offense. 

Brooks is fond of talking about winning the battle of field position and Masthay is a weapon few teams possess.  Masthay has 14 kickoffs, 10 of them going for touchbacks.  That means on average, following kickoffs, UK's opponents have started drives at their own 18-yard line.

His most impressive boot followed the safety at Louisville.  Masthay, kicking from his own 20, boomed the kickoff to the U of L 2-yard line.  Despite a 17-yard return, the Cards still started the drive inside their own 20.

Masthay also has been quite good with his punting.  With his six punts thus far, opponents on average have started at their own 21-yard line.

Those are the highlights... Stay tuned.

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