A.J. Rose spent more than a year preparing for his Kentucky debut. Â 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. Â Unfortunately, they did not bear fruit in his first game action.
In just four snaps, Rose made two critical mistakes. Â On his only carry, he missed the hole and bounced outside for just two yards. Â 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. Â “We got knocked back into the quarterback and that’s all technique, getting a better base, anticipating. Â The good part about that is we were on the right guys. Â We just didn’t do a very good job executing and finishing. Â You gotta be able to finish.”
Rose knew what he was supposed to do. Â 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. Â “I just wasn’t ready for it. Â I don’t think I was ready.”
Rose is not wasting time dwelling on the negative. Â 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. Â “After getting my feet wet, seeing how fast the game went and how linebackers come, I’m just preparing myself. Â 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. Â 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. Â 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. Â 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. Â “His best technique grade that he’s had since he’s been here. Â He’s running tough, hard-nosed and you can see he can make ya miss in space. Â I think that’s what he brings to the table. Â 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. Â It has not always been easy.
“It’s been tough, but I’m a football player. Â I also want to compete. Â The players in front of me have been doing their thing, so I can’t hate on ’em. Â I can only root ’em on and that’s what I’ve been doing.”
Rose refuses to dwell on the negative. Â He’s only looking forward from his rough first start.
“I’m definitely looking forward to another shot. Â Then when I get this shot, take full advantage of it and don’t look back. ”