As we move slowly but purposefully toward a date with the Akron Zips in Commonwealth Stadium, it's time to quit talking about Calipari and the basketball Wildcats for just a few minutes, and talk a little about the football team.
Yes, I know that Akron does not exactly constitute a big game -- the Zips are 0-2 with losses to Big East cellar-dweller Syracuse 29-3 and ... wait for it, you know it's a good one ... Gardner-Webb 38-37 in overtime.
Based on those results, and Kentucky's pounding of Western Kentucky last weekend, you would think the outcome of the Wildcats-Zips game is probably a foregone conclusion, and barring a catastrophe, you would probably be right. But here at A Sea of Blue, we respect our opponents, however strong or weak they appear on paper, and we will be taking the Zips very seriously.
But for now, I want to highlight a couple of the stories floating around the Big Blue Interwebs:
Randall Cobb for Heisman
After his early season performance, Kentucky partisans can be forgiven for thinking this thought. Randall Cobb is clearly one of the most exciting and versatile athletes UK has had on the football team in ... well, ever. Yes, we have had great teams that could move the ball as a team. Yes, we have had great multipurpose players like Rafael Little and some great individual players like André Woodson and Keenan Burton.
But Randall Cobb is truly a multipurpose offensive threat, and if college teams still played iron man football, he would no doubt be a defensive standout as well. Cobb is not the biggest or the fastest player, but he is as tough as a piece of iron, and driven to succeed by the negative commentary of his foes, much like was in his heyday.
On Saturday, Cobb figures to have another big day on the gridiron, and will have accumulated some impressive stats by the time the Wildcats charge into conference play down at the Swamp. Right now, Randall Cobb is #18 in the nation in all-purpose yards and #45 in punt returns. In the SEC, Cobb is #3 in all-purpose yards, the #5 punt returner and the #10 receiver.
Morgan Newton tries to keep it in perspective
As last year's starter, Morgan Newton figured to have a leg up at quarterback this year, but Mike Hartline won the spot primarily due to his more polished game management skills. In this article, Newton talks a little about how it felt to lose the starting spot.
I am personally beginning to wonder if there is room at Kentucky for both Ryan Mossakowski and Morgan Newton. Neither one of these guys are comfortable in a backup role, even though they will bite the bullet and do what is necessary. That is both good and bad -- it's good to have two such talented guys on the roster, but it will be hard to hold on to both of them after this year.
I would not be at all surprised to see one of them lose patience and transfer after this year. A lot depends upon who gets the reps this year, and which direction Joker wants to go with the offense next year. If the offense is better served by a dual-threat QB, I think it will be hard for Mossakowski to sit in reserve for yet another year. If Mossakowski wins the job next year, or gets most of the reps this year, it's almost a sure thing that Newton will look elsewhere.
The eternal debate: Is the schedule tough enough?
In this article, Mark Story addresses what he calls, "cupcake fatigue." Story and I part ways more often than not, but I think he nails this particular piece with his three-pronged argument why the Wildcats should upgrade the schedule cautiously.
Because Kentucky is still just climbing out of decades of futility in football, it makes sense to go slow, schedule conservatively, and make it the main objective to get to the post-season every year. I would love to see UK play at least one more 50/50 game in the non-conference schedule, but keep in mind that the fact that Louisville is not currently at Kentucky's level doesn't mean that they won't be.
Football is not like basketball. You cannot have big swings in quality from year to year, depending on the recruiting class. In football, even if Joker were to land the entire top 25 next year, it would not make us much more competitive in the SEC, if any. Football players take a lot longer to develop than basketball players, even the very best ones -- particularly at the line positions, where it really matters.
Anyone who watched the Cardinals compete against Kentucky back on Sept. 4th has to realize that this game is going to become competitive in a year or so with Charlie Strong at the helm of the Cards. If Kentucky starts losing that game on a periodic basis, the path to the post-season becomes much harder.
Which takes us back to Story's argument -- when you can win eight or nine games a year, consistently, think about upgrading the schedule. Till then, let us eat cupcake.