The Wildcats advanced to 2-0 on the season Saturday night demolishing the Hilltoppers 63-28 in there first game at Commonwealth Stadium this year. The game went as expected with the Wildcats controlling most of the game. This was the ‘Cats 17th straight nonconference victory which can be taken however you would like. Sure, it is a remarkable feat to win 17 straight games but when thinking about it the ‘Cats don’t really have a tough nonconference schedule because their conference schedule is so difficult. Everything seemed to be clicking last night for the ‘Cats and even Mike Hartline had himself a good performance.
I have been one of Hartline’s biggest critics over the past couple years but in the past two games you have to be impressed with his arm. He has shown flashes of brillance and seems to have matured finally in his decision making. Hartline was 16-20 for 213 yards and threw three touchdowns. What is even more impressive is that his average yards per pass was at about 11. You always knew that Hartline could throw the little dump passes that would go for about five yards but he is starting to throw the ball better down field. He also showcased his mobility by rushing for a touchdown. It will be interesting to see just how well Hartline will do against better competition but as for right now he is throwing the pigskin pretty well. Of course Hartline wouldn’t look as good if it weren’t for his all-world receiver Randall Cobb.
Cobb looked fantastic as usual accounting for three of Kentucky’s touchdowns. He showed off his versatility last night by throwing for a touchdown, catching one and returning one. All the Kentucky fans believe that Cobb has what it takes to be a Heisman Trophy candidate and after Cobb’s performance last night there should be many more believers. Cobb had five receptions for 98 yards and his fellow teammate Chris Matthews didn’t look too shabby either. Matthews used his height on a nicely thrown jump ball in the left corner of the endzone and pulled down Kentucky’s first touchdown of the night. Mixing Cobb’s speed and Matthews height should remind you of another successful receiving tandem that Kentucky had in Keenan Burton and Stevie Johnson. Cobb and Matthews will cause many difficult match-ups for teams all season long Matthews just needs to show some consistency.
Last but not least from the offensive side of the ball we have Derrick Locke. All Locke did last night was rush for 102 yards on 21 carries and he also got into the endzone. As long as Locke can stay healthy than Kentucky really doesn’t have much to worry about offensively. He looked pretty good in the backfield and on special teams last night. He was everything you expected from Derrick Locke. He was flashy and broke down tacklers leaving them in his tracks all night.
Everyone knew the ‘Cats offense was going to be okay this season but there were question marks on the defensive side of the ball. While giving up 28 points to the Hilltoppers isn’t terrible it’s not a good thing either. They gave up 282 total yards and allowed the Hilltoppers tailback Bobby Rainey to rush for nearly 200 yards and score two touchdowns. The run defense got punched in the mouth a couple of times last night and obviously Joker Phillips has a few things to work on before next weeks game vs. Akron. Not all was bad for the ‘Cats defense though. The pass rush was very good and the secondary looked great as well. The Hilltoppers were 8-15 passing and only threw for 97 yards. The Wildcats forced a fumble and also had an interception.
Everything looked good if you were a Wildcat fan last night as it should have versus a far inferior opponent. The offense looked good and the defense for the most part looked pretty good as well. Allowing a kid to rush for 187 yards can’t happen too often but those things can be fixed. The Wildcats still have a lot of work to do but starting off the season 2-0 is always a positive. Next week the ‘Cats bring the Akron Zips to town and this gives the Wildcats a very good chance to advance to 3-0 on the season. The Zips(0-2) lost to Gardner-Webb in overtime last night and played Syracuse in week one. They shouldn’t be too much of a problem for the Wildcats and expect similar results from this week.