UK Football Improves on Louisville Mistakes

by Dan Bodner
Contributing Writer

Editor’s Note:
Dan Bodner is a senior philosophy major at Transylvania University. He writes articles weekly for bleacherreport.com on a variety of sports-related topics. These articles will also be published weekly in The Rambler.

This past Saturday, the University of Kentucky was fortunate enough to escape Papa John’s Stadium with a victory, its fourth in a row against the University of Louisville Cardinals. Yet, despite the victory against their hated rivals, there were still many lessons to be learned for the 2010 Wildcats.

Acknowledging these areas of inadequacy and making the appropriate adjustments could mean the difference between a losing season and a fifth-straight bowl appearance.

Here are a couple of the biggest lessons learned in Kentucky’s victory against Louisville: UK needs place-kicker Joe Mansour to step up, and Randall Cobb needs more touches.

Coming out of high school, Joe Mansour was ranked the No. 2 punter in the country by Scout.com. Consequently, expectations have been extremely high for the freshman from LaGrange, Ga.

These expectations were tempered a bit because of returning junior Ryan Tydlacka’s exceptional performance as the Wildcats’ starting punter last season. So, in order to optimize their roster, the coaching staff had planned to utilize Mansour’s talents primarily as a place-kicker and kickoff specialist.

Mansour hasn’t yet lived up to expectations. The move made sense because Mansour was also a three-time All-State selection as a place-kicker in high school, as well as the place-kicker for Georgia’s All-Decade team, as decided by MaxPreps.com.

Unfortunately, Mansour’s transition from high school to college hasn’t been quite as seamless as many had hoped. He has the kind of leg strength that special teams coaches dream about, but he is still very raw mechanically.

With Mansour unavailable, Tydlacka has been forced to pull double duty as the team’s starting punter and place-kicker. And he struggled against Louisville, missing both an extra point and a 25-yard field goal attempt.

For there to be success in special teams, Mansour will first have to prove to the coaching staff that he is ready to take over as the team’s starting place-kicker.

If Kentucky’s success this season depends on any one player, it is wide receiver Randall Cobb. The junior from Alcoa, Tenn., emerged as Kentucky’s best skill player last season when he accounted for over 1,000 combined receiving and rushing yards, in addition to excelling as a kick returner.

Cobb once again flashed his game-changing ability against Louisville when he broke off a 51-yard touchdown run. He also provided what may become one of the best catches of the season when he prevented a likely interception by making a one-handed grab on a ball thrown behind him.

Unfortunately, Cobb’s impact on offense was largely limited to these two plays as he accounted for only four carries, two receptions and one pass attempt.

Obviously Louisville’s defense did all it could to prevent the Wildcats from getting the ball into Cobb’s hands, but this should serve as no excuse for Offensive Coordinator Randy Sanders. Louisville’s defense is nowhere near the caliber of some of the Southeastern Conference defenses that Kentucky will be forced to face later this season.

Randall Cobb will have to be more involved on offense against these SEC powerhouses. Defenses may be able to limit his receptions through double coverage, but he can still make a large impact through the use of designed plays.

In fact, Kentucky’s most potent offensive formation over the last year has been the “WildCobb,” the team’s variation of the recently popularized Wildcat offense, where Randall Cobb assumes the quarterback position. In this formation, Cobb is allowed the option to pass, hand off or run the ball himself.

To continue its success on offense against tougher defenses, the coaching staff will have to utilize the “WildCobb” formation more often, in addition to designated screen plays and reverses.

The bottom line is that seven offensive touches simply isn’t enough for a player whom college football analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has described as the best all-around player in the nation.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: