‘Fantastic Four’ showcasing their abilities

The Fantastic Four is apparently no longer known as Mr. Fantastic, the Invisible Woman, the Human Torch and the Thing. Now it’s Derrick Locke, Tony Dixon, Alfonso Smith and Moncell Allen, whose alias can also be known as the UK running back committee.

“We call ourselves the Fantastic Four,” Smith said. “It’s something we can hold onto our shoulders and go into the game with.”

All four running backs have the ability to bust loose and have to always be ready for when they are called into action, Smith said.

“Coach tells us to stay focused,” Smith said. “When Locke and Tony come off the field, I’m always asking them what the defense is doing and we are always talking amongst us to try and give each other an edge.”

It hasn’t always been the Fantastic Four, however.

Brooks had been inclined to go with a three-man rotation for much of the year early season, giving Locke, Dixon and Smith the bulk of the carries. That left Moncell Allen on the outside looking in until this past weekend.

Allen proved he deserves a few touches in the rotation by racking up 71 yards and a touchdown on seven carries against Norfolk State on Saturday.

“I’ve created a bigger problem for myself because Moncell looked really good carrying the ball this past week,” Brooks said. “Before, we were working on three guys in the rotation but now we have four, and that’s a good problem to have. I love these types of problems.”

Brooks said he makes decisions on who to play and when based on feelings. Avoiding injuries also factors into Brooks’ decisions, but suggestions from the public do not.

“It’s mostly on feel and knowing what guys are fresher and healthier,” Brooks said.

The rushing game, which was expected to be the strong point of the UK offense this year, struggled in the first game of the season against Louisville, tallying only 63 rushing yards.

However, in the last game against Norfolk State the rushing attack got back on track, accounting for 297 yards and four touchdowns, something the Cats have been looking for and need out of their backfield.

“The offense helps us a lot chewing up the clock,” junior safety Ashton Cobb said. “Last week, I think we had 80 snaps on defense and this week it was down to 55, so getting that rest helps the whole team.”

Cobb stressed the fact that despite the offensive woes the first game, they are still a team and the defense was there during the game and practices to help pick up their spirits.

“The offense started off a little slow against Louisville, but we’re a team,” Cobb said. “When they started to pick it up we were excited and when they were slow we patted them on the back telling them let’s go. It’s nothing major — both sides of the ball know we’re going to do our part.”

Having four running backs as talented as UK’s makes it fun for the offensive linemen, said junior offensive tackle Justin Jeffries. It also makes it difficult for opposing defenses to scheme, because they can’t just concentrate on one back.

Jeffries said the offensive line took it to heart when the Cats’ rushing attack couldn’t build up anything against the Cardinals, and they wanted to prove they could be up to the task against Norfolk State.

“One thing coach harped was staying low and hitting our blocks,” Jeffries said. “Between the two games our confidence has definitely boosted, and we need to keep going and opening up the holes for the guys.”

The holes were there against the Spartans as the offensive line was able to open a wide enough hole for Locke to break a 68-yard touchdown. While the Fantastic Four are a close-knit group and all enjoy each other’s success, they don’t mind joking around about having a big gain themselves.

“I feel like Locke gets lucky with his runs, he gets to break all the big runs,” Smith said. “I’m ready to get my turn at breaking the big one.”