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A football team can have a star quarterback, running back, or wide receiver, but if they lack chemistry it’s meaningless.
Just ask the 2004 Philadelphia Eagles.
The addition of Terrell Owens solidified a roster that many consider the best collection of talent to play in Philadelphia – perhaps more talent than head coach Andy Reid could manage.
Philadelphia came just short of winning the Super Bowl before the wheels started to fall off.
Owens and star quarterback Donovan McNabb’s differences came out with the comment by Owens that he “wasn’t the guy who got tired in the Super Bowl.”
The following season saw Owens suspension, deactivation and release from the Eagles with five years left on his contract.
So how does all this relate to Joker Phillips’ Cats?
While not having the NFL-sized egos and salaries to deal with, the Cats still haven’t had a prominent connection between any single quarterback and wide receiver since 2006.
Coming off of a 3-8 2005 campaign in a season where the team couldn’t find success at any particular position on the offensive side of the ball, UK captured their first bowl victory since 1984 with the offseason transformation of quarterback Andre Woodson.
Woodson’s success in the passing game came with much help from Keenan Burton.
En route to their bowl win, Woodson completed 264 passes for 3,515 yards and 31 touchdowns.
Finding himself on the receiving end of a lot of those passes was Burton. At season’s end he had compiled 77 receptions for 1,036 yards and 12 touchdowns – leading the team in all three statistical categories.
Sophomore to be, Max Smith, is coming of age on the football field. Once he was given the opportunity last season, Smith showed flashes of success, but it was too little too late for any breakthroughs to occur.
Freshman receiver DeMarco Robinson has been singled-out by both Smith and Phillips as a potential play-maker for the Cats.
“I worked a training camp one year with Joe Gibbs, and I can remember in one of our coach’s meetings, there’s something to be said for a guy every time you have a scrimmage he makes a play. Demarco Robinson is that guy,” Phillips said. “Every time we came into this place (Commonwealth Stadium) he made a huge play for us and today he made a lot of big plays for us. We think he is one of our playmakers.”
Robinson agreed with the notion by his head coach, saying, “I feel like I can be the guy (playmaker), but we all feel like we should be that guy.”
And make big plays Saturday he did.
Every time Max Smith dropped back into the pocket your eyes would wander around the field looking to see where he may go, but it seemed for often than not that the pigskin met #9, Robinson.
“Over the spring we put it a lot of work – extra passes, extra throwing and stuff. It’s really showing that it’s helped, so we’re going to keep it up this summer,” Robinson said.
The game started with a short pass across the middle for a gain of six.
There were a couple of incompletions between that first catch and his second grab, but it started to become apparent that the two would find each other.
Like a thoroughbred from his post, Robinson exploded from his formation for his second catch.
Down the stretch he went, no one near him. Smith’s pass sailed threw the air and there was #9 gliding in stride for the touchdown.
At day’s end, Robinson had caught nine passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns.
The second touchdown for the duo came on a sideline route that is often only caught by larger receivers.
Robinson’s 5-foot-10, 159 pound frame defied that logic as he curled around and made the catch even with the defender’s presence.
He said afterwards that he was beginning to feel like a go-to-guy.
Until Smith began finding his tight ends in the fourth quarter, Robinson’s yardage made up a little over half of what Smith had thrown.
“I feel we’ve been like this all spring. I kind of looked at him to much today maybe,” Smith said. “That just says we’re working hard – I throw with him a lot, and I feel we’ve got a good chemistry.”
Although it was just a scrimmage, the connection between Smith and Robinson is one not seen by fans in Commonwealth Stadium in recent years.
The chemistry between the two may be just the magic elixir Philips needs to necessitate the UK football program.