Cobb's versatility pushes the limits of imagination

Defense, long snapping, Kicking ... Why Not?

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistSeptember 12, 2010 

UK Football

Kentucky's Randall Cobb (#18) scored a touchdown against Western Kentucky in the second quarter.

JOSEPH REY AU

Here's a brain twister for you. What can't Randall Cobb do well on a football field?

Surely the 5-foot-11, 186-pound junior is not big enough to play nose guard. Then again, he is tough.

Maybe he can't long snap.

"I haven't tried it," Cobb said, "but if it came down to it, I wouldn't mind trying it."

Maybe he can't place-kick.

"Oh, no. That's the one thing I can't do for sure," Cobb said.

That may be the only thing.

Kentucky pulverized out-manned Western Kentucky University 63-28 Saturday evening before 66,584 in Commonwealth Stadium. In a season that has so far been characterized by major-conference teams losing to heavy underdogs from lower conferences, the Cats took care of business.

The big reason was another fabulous display of versatility from Cobb.

Coming into the Kentucky football season, one tantalizing question was whether jack-of-all-trades Cobb could produce a touchdown four different ways in one game.

Against Willie Taggart's Hilltoppers, he came achingly close.

The Alcoa, Tenn., product scored a touchdown via the return game.

In the second quarter, Cobb took a Hendrix Brakefield punt at midfield. He juked his way past the first WKU defender, broke straight up field then cut hard down the right sideline.

Cobb didn't stop until he was in the end zone.

"I kind of take it as a sign of disrespect when teams kick to us," Cobb said.

Next up, Cobb produced a Kentucky TD with his left arm.

Operating out of the Wildcat formation, Cobb hit fullback Moncell Allen with a short pass and "The Turtle" waddled into the end zone from 15 yards out.

It was the second week in a row that Cobb has connected on an important pass from the Wildcat. In the season-opening victory at Louisville, he launched a fourth-quarter UK drive that took the final 3:16 off the clock with a 19-yard toss to Jordan Aumiller.

A viable passing threat from the Wildcat formation figures to make Cobb even more dangerous as a runner as the season progresses.

"I think so," Cobb said. "That's very important for us to be able to make those throws out of the Wildcat to keep defenses on their heels. It provides things to open up the running part."

After Western pulled within 42-21, Cobb found the end zone as a receiver.

On a third-and-10 play, Cobb broke free behind the WKU secondary and ran under a perfectly thrown pass from Mike Hartline in the end zone for a 35-yard TD with 3:02 left in period three.

Suddenly, with a full quarter left to play, Cobb needed only the rushing touchdown to complete "the quadruple."

"He got the three hardest (kinds of touchdowns)," Kentucky Coach Joker Phillips noted.

Late in the final quarter, with UK up 56-28, the Wildcats' second/third team offense had the ball second-and-goal at the Western 3.

On the sideline, Cobb said he was agitating for a chance to go back in and get his rushing touchdown.

"I did a little bit," he said.

Phillips — proving that he's getting the hang of this head-coaching thing — made the prudent decision not to risk his star player getting hurt in a game long since decided.

"No, I wasn't tempted. Not into empty stats," Phillips said of putting Cobb back in the game. "We're interested in having Randall for the rest of the season."

It was the right decision even if it denied the chance of seeing something special.

With his three TDs, Cobb now has 27 for his UK career. He tied Moe Williams, Rodger Bird and George Adams for second all-time at Kentucky. Cobb needs six more touchdowns to pass Craig Yeast's school record of 32.

After winning his first game as head coach in the stadium where he played his college football, Phillips was asked if he knew of anything Cobb doesn't do well on a football field.

"No, there's not much that he can't do," Phillips said.

Pause.

Smile.

"I'll tell you, I'm worried about him because we had our coach's show, (and Cobb) said he wanted to be a head coach. I'm worried he'll take my job," Joker joked.

Based on everything else he does on a football field, there's every reason to think Randall Cobb would be good at it.

Reach Mark Story at (859) 231-3230 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3230, or mstory@herald-leader.com. Your e-mail could appear on the blog Read Mark Story's E-mail at Kentucky.com.

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