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By LARRY VAUGHT
Randall Cobb didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t mince words.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“This was a big loss for us and took a lot out of me,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Cobb. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I hope we can pull it back together. This was a big game for us, one we knew we had to win. It was big for the pecking order of the SEC East and the bowl games.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“To come out and play the way we did Ã¢â‚¬â€ to not even show up Ã¢â‚¬â€ is very discouraging and disappointing. We played with no emotion. I do not know what to say. We did not play well across the board. I wish I knew why.Ã¢â‚¬Â
So do Kentucky fans after the Cats lost 31-24 to Mississippi State in Commonwealth Stadium Saturday night.
DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t blame Cobb even if he did have a first-quarter fumble. He still accounted for 237 all-purpose yards (17 rushing, 32 receiving, 46 punt returns, 142 kickoff returns). He also scored his 10th touchdown this year and tallied a touchdown in a game for the 11th time in the 18 games he has played for Kentucky.
Forget the second-guessing about whether Kentucky should have gone to the wildcat package featuring Cobb at quarterback more in the fourth quarter Ã¢â‚¬â€ State had shut him down and twice the Cats did drive into scoring position with freshman Morgan Newton at quarterback. Instead, pay attention more to what Cobb thought about the teamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mental approach.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t do much of anything right. They put a lot of stress on us with their defense. It was just a tough night all around for us in every phase of the game,Ã¢â‚¬Â Cobb said.
Cobb admitted the players had openly talked about what winning this game could have done for UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s bowl chances and placement.
Did UK take Mississippi State lightly?
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t speak for my teammates. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know how others feel. I gave my all out there, and I hope others can say that, too,Ã¢â‚¬Â Cobb said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“But we didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t play well or with the emotion I expected. This was a big night. It was homecoming. It was Halloween. It was a big SEC game.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I could tell early that things were not right emotionally. I could see people hanging their heads when something didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t go right. I thought we had moved past that, but we didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t play together like we should have and we didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t play as hard as we should have.Ã¢â‚¬Â
HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s right. It was obvious to everyone in Commonwealth Stadium, including UK head coach Rich Brooks, that his team was whipped physically. UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s defensive front was manhandled. UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s offensive front was not as dominant as it had been. UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s defensive backs were punished by StateÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s blockers and runners.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Now weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got to move past this somehow. I figured we would have so much emotion tonight but it just wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t there. All we can do now is let it go. ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s nothing else we can do now,Ã¢â‚¬Â Cobb said.