Wildcats kicked off the season in grand fashion on Saturday, beating Miami of
Ohio resoundingly 42-0. Perhaps as important as the win, the game went a
long way in answering some questions about the team. Among those questions
were concerns about how Hartline would perform after an inconsistent season last
year; how Derrick Locke might look bouncing back from injury; and how quickly
Randall Cobb might set in to a permanent role as wide receiver. While one
game can certainly not answer all those questions definitively, fans of the big
blue had to be encouraged with what they saw.
Quarterback Mike Hartline threw for 222 yards and two touchdowns, including
one to Randall Cobb, who had competed with Hartline for quarterback duties last
"Hartline played in the game like he did all fall," Brooks said. "He played
with poise, threw the ball very well and didn't have a lot of bad plays. He made
a lot more good plays than bad. I thought his accuracy was good for the most
part. The thing that I was pleased with that helped him is that we had some
players make some catches and make some plays on the ball. We had as many good
catches in this game as we had in five or six games total last year. "
Cobb caught seven passes for 96 yards. He had two touchdowns, one from
Hartline's pass and one from the ground. Hartline silenced critics with an
outstanding performance. He took a tremendous amount of criticism for UK's
struggles last season but showed on Saturday that he's a better quarterback than
before. He passed for 222 yards and two scores on the day, but more importantly,
he played with poise and had great zip on his passes.
"It was good to see a lot of things translate to the field today,
particularly Mike Hartline's game management," Brooks said. "You all used that
word in depth last year to 'manage games'." Well, he can now win a game, and
that's a significant change in Mike Hartline's game."
feels great," Hartline said. "I've been almost waiting. It's been a long road.
I've been really waiting to improve myself over the spring and over the summer
and to show this is a different year for us, offensively. We're not going to go
back to where we were last year and have a bunch of question marks here and
there. We're going to perform and we're going to do it with a lot of execution,
a lot of focus and lot of energy."
Answering another question, running back Derrick Locke looked solid coming back
from injury. Locke carried the ball eight times for 61 yards including a
touchdown. "I'm as pleased for him as anybody," Brooks said. "He had
contact coming off a very serious knee injury in fall camp, but there is nothing
like getting out and playing a real game. I think you can see the speed and
explosion is still there. The Derrick Locke of (new) may be better than the
Derrick Locke of old."