By LARRY VAUGHT
Confidence is not a problem for Kentucky senior receiver Chris Matthews, and probably never will be. But thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not a bad thing with the way heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s being counted on again to become a big-play performer for the Wildcats.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It will better the team and myself as the players around me get better, and they are better this year,Ã¢â‚¬Â Matthews said.
So will UK fans get to see the real Chris Matthews consistently this season rather than periodically like they did when the junior college transfer arrived last year?
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Very much so. We are going to see what is going on and I think I can really do something this year,Ã¢â‚¬Â Matthews said.
Then I posed this question to him: Does a great receiver need a great quarterback or does a great quarterback have to have a great receiver?
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I believe it is the quarterback. If you have a great quarterback, you are going to have a good receiver no mater who it is because he is going to get it to you and all you have to do is concentrate and catch the ball,Ã¢â‚¬Â Matthews said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“For us receivers to actually have a breakout year, we are going to have to have a nasty, monstrous quarterback out there who will just take charge.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Even if we are blowing Florida out by like 50 points and we are lollygagging, playing around and laughing and stuff, we need a quarterback that will say, Ã¢â‚¬ËœShut up. LetÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s keep on pushing it.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ That is something we really need for the tough times and the good times. We need a quarterback who is going to come out and keep a level head.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Does UK have that player in Mike Hartline, Morgan Newton or Ryan Mossakowski?
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I believe every quarterback out here has it in their head. Morgan is pretty silly, but when it gets down to business he is pretty serious,Ã¢â‚¬Â Matthews said.
What about him? New receivers coach Tee Martin said Matthews reminded him skill-wise of NFL receiver Plexaco Burress, a big-time playmaker. Is that fair?
Ã¢â‚¬Å“That is a real honor. I like Plexaco Burress even despiteÃ‚Â the trouble he has right now (he ins in jail) because he is just a phenomenal football player. I like the way he uses his body and hands. He fakes people out with his route running. I appreciate him saying something like that,Ã¢â‚¬Â Matthews said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I have seen some of coach MartinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s tapes when he was a quarterback (at Tennessee). He was pretty accurate. I would have loved to play with him. He would have made me look like Plexaco Burress.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Matthews wants to make many more big plays and help the Cats win more games than they did last year.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It was eating me alive last year, even when we played the next game, over the losses we had by a few points and did this or that wrong to cost us the game,Ã¢â‚¬Â Matthews said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Now that we have a fresh start, we have to make those changes it takes to win those close games and not let the same things happen to us again.Ã¢â‚¬Â