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Randall Cobb has been exactly what we figured he would be this year -- intense, focused, and productive. Cobb is second in the SEC in all-purpose yards behind Alabama's Trent Richardson, and the only reason he isn't ahead is because passing doesn't count in the AP yards calculation. Cobb averages 5.7 yards/game in passing, which would easily put him past Richardson if it counted toward the stat.
But despite Cobb's heroics, Kentucky comes into this weekend's game at 4-5 on the season. If Kentucky wins two of the next three, they would be bowl eligible along with most of the SEC. If they win out, they would weigh in at 7-5, which would be exactly where we wound up last year against what I consider to be weaker competition this year than last. But no matter what, 7-5 would certainly draw a minor bowl, although it's likely to be a cold-weather bowl.
But the question that comes to my mind right now is can Kentucky get there at all? FCS Charleston Southern may not be a particularly competitive team, having won only two games so far this year and 0-4 in the Big South Conference. But after that come two SEC teams, and even though both the Vanderbilt Commodores and Tennessee Volunteers are the dregs of the conference this year, they have more than enough to beat Kentucky.
So can Randall Cobb will us over the finish line to the post season? I think so.
Cobb has been Mr. Football here at Kentucky for two years now, this year particularly so. He motivates his team, he leads by example, and he occasionally reminds the fans why they are fans. In other words, versatility is what he is all about, and there is probably no player in all of college football as flexible as as Randall Cobb is on the football field.
This year, there is a new award being given out to college football players called the Paul Hornung Award, which is named after Heisman Trophy winner, Notre Dame and Green Bay Packers great Paul Hornung of Louisville, Kentucky. Vince Lombardi once called Hornung "The most versatile man ever to play the game." Randall Cobb is the most versatile player to play at Kentucky since the late, great George Blanda, and is considered a front-runner for the first Hornung award.
In short, Cobb does everything he can to help Kentucky win. Unfortunately, this season has been a frustrating one, rife with missed opportunities and last-minute losses. It has to be hard on Cobb especially, who is clearly one of the hardest workers in practice as well as on the football field. Nobody likes to lose, and losing is not something Cobb takes well.
Consider this list of Cobb's heroics and superlatives:
- Game-winning touchdown catch against the South Carolina Gamecocks, notching UK's only SEC win so far this year against a team ranked #10 in the country at the time;
- 10 touchdowns scored on the year, 5th in the SEC;
- Set the career record for touchdowns scored at Kentucky in just his third year;
- Has a reasonable chance to break Tim Tebow's SEC record of 57 career touchdowns if he returns next year. Cobb currently has 34 touchdowns with at least 3 games to go this season;
- He needs only 363 all-purpose yards to break Rafael Little's Kentucky single-season record of 1982 set in 2005;
When this season ends, I know most Kentucky fans will anxiously await Cobb's future plans. He is eligible to enter the NFL draft after this year, and losing him would be a major blow to a Kentucky team that seems ready to fix a lot of the problems that have dogged them this year in 2011, particularly defensively. Kentucky will have a new quarterback, of course, but Cobb coming back his senior year would put the Wildcats in a position to do some damage in the SEC East.
But in the here and now, Kentucky has a lot of work to do before it can claim a post-season berth, and Cobb will be a critical piece of the puzzle if UK is to end up with another winning season.