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By LARRY VAUGHT
Randall Cobb canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t hide his enthusiasm about the Kentucky offense.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I feel great about the offense. I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t wait to just go up to Louisville and play (on Sept. 4 to open the season) so we can display everything we have been doing this offseason,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Cobb.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think we will be a lot better. I think we will be compared to the 2007 team just because we have the ability to have playmakers like that. But I think we are a different style team. We have more running backs and are deeper at running back than receiver but we have receivers that can stretch the field to make plays, too.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Comparing this offense to the one in 2007 that featured quarterback Andre Woodson, receivers Keenan Burton and Steve Johnson, tight end Jacob Tamme and running back Rafael Little could be a bit optimistic even for Cobb, KentuckyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s best all-around offensive performer and one of the Southeastern ConferenceÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s best players.
However, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s so optimistic because he believes in senior quarterback Mike Hartline Ã¢â‚¬â€ and always has.
He says Hartline, who won the job over Morgan Newton and Ryan Mossakowski, will be better because Ã¢â‚¬Å“he has guys around himÃ¢â‚¬Â to make plays this year.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He has always been the guy he has been, he just hasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t had anybody in the past to throw the ball to consistently and hasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t had the time with the offense to throw the ball,Ã¢â‚¬Â Cobb said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think right now he is just really comfortable giving the receivers a chance. A lot of times he used to check the ball down to running backs because he didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t trust the receivers. I think he has grown to trust us a lot over the off-season. I think he is ready for us to make plays.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Cobb, a full-time receiver, has also played quarterback and will likely be used again in certain situations. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s why he appreciates the need for a quarterback to have consistent playmakers around him.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It is rough playing quarterback when there are not enough playmakers. I can remember back to my freshman year. We didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have any experience,Ã¢â‚¬Â Cobb said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know what was going on. When I played quarterback, we ran the ball. That was pretty obvious because we didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have the ability to throw it.Ã¢â‚¬Â
But what about the other receivers this year?
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I feel great. We have done so much work as far as the catches we made. We had a lot of people that got a lot of catches this summer, so our hands are good. We worked a lot on our technique and routes and doing all the little things to make plays for our quarterback,Ã¢â‚¬Â Cobb said.
Cobb says the biggest difference in the offense might be the depth at the skilled positions, something UK has lacked the last two years.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We have the depth now. Our offensive line is tremendous. Coach (Mike) Summers has done a great job with them so far. The way they pick up protections and blitzes is going to help us out a lot and that gives the quarterback time to make the throws to us. And we have depth at each position finally,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.
That could allow both Cobb and running back Derrick Locke, who are also two of the nationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s best kick returners, to play fewer plays and take fewer hits.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think our bodies wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be wore down as much as they have been in the past,Ã¢â‚¬Â Cobb said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We have a lot of guys that can get on the field and make plays. We wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t feel like we have to be in the game the whole time.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We both know we can take a break and have guys pick up where we left off and there not be any slack. That will keep us a lot fresher and make us a lot better when you get to the middle of the season and start feeling like you are wore down.Ã¢â‚¬Â