A.J. Rose spent more than a year preparing for his Kentucky debut. It didn’t go according to plan.
After redshirting during his freshman season, the highly-touted running back from Cleveland made great strides during preseason training camp. Unfortunately, they did not bear fruit in his first game action.
In just four snaps, Rose made two critical mistakes. On his only carry, he missed the hole and bounced outside for just two yards. In pass protection, he made the correct read, but failed to make the block.
“They picked it up, just the technique wasn’t very good,” Eddie Gran said today. “We got knocked back into the quarterback and that’s all technique, getting a better base, anticipating. The good part about that is we were on the right guys. We just didn’t do a very good job executing and finishing. You gotta be able to finish.”
Rose knew what he was supposed to do. He just didn’t know how fast it would happen.
“When I was out there and I had my chance, I missed the hole and then I got bull-rushed,” Rose said. “I just wasn’t ready for it. I don’t think I was ready.”
Rose is not wasting time dwelling on the negative. There’s a simple silver lining to the tough first experience on the field: he learned how fast the speed of the game is at this level.
“I definitely feel more confident,” Rose said. “After getting my feet wet, seeing how fast the game went and how linebackers come, I’m just preparing myself. Now when I get in next time, I’ll know what to do and I can just do it to the full effect.”
Gran saw a positive response from Rose. To get another chance, Gran said he has to “continue to do what he’s supposed to do every single day at practice where I can trust him. He had two great practices in a row.”
What makes the challenge even more difficult for Rose is the play from the two guys ahead of him. Benny Snell has earned the right to be the No. 1 running back and Sihiem King showed the coaches his best play yet.
“He had a really good game,” Gran praised King. “His best technique grade that he’s had since he’s been here. He’s running tough, hard-nosed and you can see he can make ya miss in space. I think that’s what he brings to the table. He had a couple blitz pick-ups and did a great job…That was encouraging also.”
Snell and King have forced Rose to be patient. It has not always been easy.
“It’s been tough, but I’m a football player. I also want to compete. The players in front of me have been doing their thing, so I can’t hate on ’em. I can only root ’em on and that’s what I’ve been doing.”
Rose refuses to dwell on the negative. He’s only looking forward from his rough first start.
“I’m definitely looking forward to another shot. Then when I get this shot, take full advantage of it and don’t look back. ”