Backup running backs capable of taking the load off of Snell

If Kentucky’s offense needs a big play or someone to punch it into the end zone from a couple of yards out, the ball will likely be placed in Benny Snell’s hands.

In the past two seasons, that option has worked out well for the Cats. Snell has averaged 5.4 yards on 448 carries while rushing for 32 touchdowns in his career.

That success has Kentucky fans wanting the coaching staff to feed the ball to Snell more and more, especially when he is dialed in, like he was against Tennessee last season or New Mexico State his freshman year.

However, it’s possible that fans will see less of Snell on the field this season– not because of anything Snell is doing, but what the other running backs, such as Sihiem King and A.J. Rose, are doing behind him.

“I trust both of them, more than I ever have,” offensive coordinator Eddie Gran said after UK’s final training camp practice on Aug. 21. “I love our room and I think that you’ll see a lot more of both of them this year.”

With Snell as the main back, King and Rose were hardly used, especially Rose.

Rose only appeared in seven games last season and never totaled more than three carries except when he carried the ball nine times against Mississippi State. Snell only ran the ball seven times in that game, and Rose managed 26 yards in his nine rushes.

On the other hand, King had a bigger role as Snell’s backup, but never really made a significant effect because of Snell’s success. King’s best game was against Vanderbilt, where he ran the ball 15 times for 69 yards and two touchdowns.

However, King’s game against Vanderbilt was the only time he had double-digit rushes or made a trip to the end zone.

With Snell only getting better, many would expect that he would dominate the workload once again, but Gran believes that King and Rose subbing in for Snell can help him have a better season.

“I think they’re both really making Benny [Snell] a better football player,” Gran said. “We’ll be able to take some heat off of him, you look at 13 games and that’s what you’d like to do.”

Both Rose and King have impressed in camp, which is where they have caught the coaching staff’s eyes the most. On top of that, they and many fans might remember Rose’s spring game, when he showed what he can do backing up Snell.

“I went out there and I basically showed what I’m capable of,” Rose said of his performance, which included 134 yards and three touchdowns on 11 carries. “I look forward to putting that to all 12 games this season.”

Rose expects to play in the first game and is excited for his potential this year. Last season, people believed that Rose could have been an effective running back, but an ankle injury limited him during training camp, preventing him from getting off on the right foot.

This year? He is all systems go and ready for it.

“I’m ready, I’ve been waiting for this, I’m ready to get out there Sept. 1 and show what I can do,” Rose said.