“I feel like I had a better feel for the game,” Kentucky offensive lineman Eli Cox said about his performance against Missouri.
You can say that again. Cox did what every offensive linemen dreams of — scoring a touchdown. He was able to recover Chris Rodriguez Jr.’s fumble at the goal line late Saturday night, which would eventually turn out to be the game-winner.
“It was a pretty cool experience I’ll be able to tell my kids about one day, nobody will probably believe me,” Cox said. “It was a really cool experience to be around the ball with lucky timing for me, so it was just an exciting play — I’m glad to contribute.”
Saturday’s fumble recovery in the end zone wasn’t the first time Cox found his way past the pylon, though.
“In little league, believe it or not, in like fifth grade I had a 50-yard kickoff return for a touchdown,” Cox said. “It’s the only other time I ever scored in football. It was an onside kick that bounced funny.” Cox said he’ll take it.
The crowd of dozens went wild for Cox’s youth football league touchdown — much like the crowd in Kroger Field last Saturday night to open Kentucky’s SEC play this season.
“We always love having our fans there,” he said about the nearly-packed stadium. “It brings all the more energy for us. It makes all those big plays even bigger when you can hear the roar of the crowd.”
The crowd was as loud as ever last weekend. The roaring adulation echoed the fan’s opinions on the new offense implemented under Liam Coen, who has now passed the ball for 400 yards one week and rushed for over 300 in the next.
“I think we had a really great game plan,” he said. “Our coaches really worked hard to put that game plan together. We studied a lot of film, studied their defense … we were prepared for anything they could throw at us.”
Double the game plan with a starting quarterback in Will Levis that isn’t afraid to lower his shoulder and take (or rather, give) a hit can send shock waves through a home crowd. Cox said it’s exciting to play aggressive in not only the run, but the passing game now as well.
“It juices up everybody,” Cox said about Levis fighting for extra yards. “When any of your teammates are fighting for extra yards and scrapping and clawing — it’s a physical game, so when you see your teammates being as physical as possible, it makes you want to give an extra step forward, give that extra effort your teammates are putting in.”
Camaraderie has built chemistry in the Kentucky football locker room throughout the early portion of the 2021 season. Various players have said over the last few months that everyone has been locked from the spring, to fall camp to now. Cox is one of them and believes it’s showing off through two games.
Cox feels that everyone has bought into one similar goal and are out to prove that they’re a team to be reckoned with going forward.
“We’re just focused on winning every game we can,” he said. “We want to win next week, win the week after that. Coach says just keep stacking blocks. Stack good days on good days, good weeks on good weeks and that stuff will take care of itself.”