DEMAREE: Brooks goes with the here and now

One could sense the trepidation around the Big Blue Nation that Rich Brooks was willing to slide through this season hoping for Mike Hartline to catch fire and get this team to a bowl. Two all-star quarterbacks arrive at UK next year, and this would help avoid a logjam. Brooks put the kabosh on that thinking by naming Randall Cobb the starting quarterback for the Mississippi State game.

Obviously Brooks sees this as a crossroads game for the season. Kentucky had the same road trip in 2006 and after taking a 49-0 thumping at the hands of LSU, the win changed the course of the program. There is a certain irony in that a few fans had all of a sudden started to lose faith in Brooks to make smart decisions. These coaches didn't all of a sudden forget how to coach football.

Brooks as well as other coaches (Tubby Smith) sometimes exude a level of loyalty that can get them into dutch with their fan-base. Loyalty can sometime cloud the judgment as well.

Why the trepidation coming from some of the fans as it relates to the quarterback position? Because based on the performances of Cobb when he's been at the helm this season, it had become very clear that he belonged at the controls for the good of this team. Fans were getting the feeling Brooks was ready to do the same thing he had done all season. You can't continue to do the same thing and expect a different result.

There's no guarantee the move will insure victory but Brooks sees the need to give it a chance. The thought process beginning to permeate a segment of the Big Blue nation was the staff did not want to lose either of the two star quarterbacks coming in the next recruiting class. Brooks is showing he doesn't plan to let this season go down the drain and to attempt to keep the bowl string alive. Brooks sees the here and now.

What does Brooks feel that Cobb brings to the table to spur this team? "Production!," Brooks piercingly stated. "We've been starting games slow the last several weeks and when Randall's inserted, not always on the first series, but somewhere in there we at least seem to be able to move the ball. I think he gives the defense a little more problem with his feet and his ability to improvise than Mike does. And he's also, because of the last several weeks of practice, understanding the offense a lot better."

Is Cobb handling the leadership needed to lead this team? "I've always said he's mature beyond his years," Brooks said. "The best way for somebody to show leadership is go out and play well then act like a leader when they have done it."

Players seem to support that position. "Randall Cobb is emerging as a leader," defensive tackle Randy Lumpkin said. "He was the only one in the locker room at halftime other than coach Brooks being vocal saying don't give up, keep going. He's always working hard. He's a young guy but it doesn't matter how old you are, It's how you care. He's a great guy."

Cobb had his baptism under fire at Florida in front of 90,000 hostile fans and operated with a minimum of mistakes. Field position and ball control was essential to have any chance at Florida and the team wasn't able to achieve this under the direction of Hartline. When Cobb entered the game in the second quarter, he put together a 14-play drive, which is what Brooks preached all week was needed to shorten the game. After Hartline started to begin the second half and having nominal success, Cobb re-entered the game in the third quarter and promptly put together a 13-play drive. Only the first drive produced any points, but both showed that Cobb is capable of moving the team.

This could be a big step in getting his team back. How do you get them back? "You want your team to play well in the last quarter and this helps to get the guy ready to play the next game," Sylvester Croom, the Mississippi State head coach said. "After a game like that, the guys find it a little easier to stay in the training room a little longer."

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