Last week in UK’s win against New Mexico State, true freshman running back Benny Snell Jr. exploded onto the scene rushing for 136 yards and four touchdowns and fans were immediately impressed with him.
Saturday against South Carolina, many came into the game wondering if they would see the explosive Snell get carries with Jojo Kemp returning from injury. Not only did Kemp return from injury, but he has a track record of playing well against the Gamecocks, so when the senior carried the ball three times in the first half, it seemed as if we would see more of Kemp in the second half.
However, after Stanley ‘Boom’ Williams broke one for 43-yards and a score with 12:45 left in the third quarter, the game was put into the hands of Snell.
It began on UK’s 10th drive of the game when Snell took his first carry of the half for 14 yards and a first down. That carry began a string of eight straight carries for Snell who completely took over the game from that point on.
The Ohio native carried the ball a total of nine times on that drive for 50 yards and the game-winning touchdown.
What was impressive about the drive in-particular was not the stats, but rather the manner in which Snell ran the ball.
Even legendary broadcaster Brent Musberger was impressed with the way Snell ran the ball.
“What a future, oh mercy,” Musberger said after Snell’s TD . “Kentucky has discovered a big back to go with ‘Boom’, there are some defensive coordinators in this league that are watching this game right now and saying ‘Yes sir, we are going to keep an eye out for Number 26.’”
Snell finished the game with 77 yards and a touchdown, and although he only averaged 4.6 yards-per-carry on the night, it felt like much more as he dealt blow after blow to the Gamecock defense with his 5-11, 220 pound frame.
Perhaps the most impressive part of they way he runs, is the fact that it takes more than one defender to take him down, but it does not seem to phase him.
“I’m not even paying attention half the time, I’m just running forward. That’s what I try to look for everytime I touch the ball, is a first down. I try to fall forward and i’m a downhill runner so that helps,” Snell said.
After Saturday’s clutch performance, it will be now be extremely difficult not to continue to play the tough-running Snell in collaboration with Williams who has really started to get things going over the last couple of weeks.
“Benny is tough, you saw it last week and here again, you saw it this week,” Williams said Saturday. “It really tears down a defense when you have a guy like myself and you have Benny come in and make those tough runs and be able to extend drives and things like that. It was fun.”
Offensive coordinator Eddie Gran now has two talented running backs at his disposal. The combination of Williams and Snell could be deadly for opposing defenses, potentially giving Kentucky the boost it needs for the rest of the season.