There are a lot of ‘why?’s’ following yet another heartbreaking loss to the Florida Gators Saturday night. Why go conservative, why were those two calls targeting, why does Kentucky insist on running a Wildcat on fourth & one? So on and so forth.
But the biggest ‘why’, at least for me, is why is AJ Rose still getting the bulk of the carries over Kavosiey Smoke?
Through three games, Smoke leads the Kentucky rushing attack with 251 yards; however, Rose still leads the team in carries by 13. Now, Smoke did get a bump in production this Saturday, nearly doubling his carries on the season which was aided by five carries on the next-to-last series. But it still seemed like Gran was forcing Rose into the mix with 14 carries on the night and giving the nod to Rose in key situations.
This post isn’t a slight to Rose. In fact, Rose brings great things to the table, including blocking, receiving out of the backfield and keeping the defense honest. But when it comes to SOLEY picking up yards on the ground, it just hasn’t worked for Rose so far this season.
This season, Rose is averaging 4.1 yards per carry compared to Smoke’s 7.4. So, it had to be asked: Why is A.J Rose still getting high volume carries out of the backfield?
Is it because of seniority and AJ deserves it? Is it because his versatility keeps the defense honest? Is it his blocking? The BBN wants answers. Here’s what Eddie Gran gave us:
“They’ve both been productive. Smoke gets the longer runs. Some of that’s been because you know we’ve worn them down. Sometimes it’s been there after three series, sometimes it’s been after four series. A lot of the time it happens like that, because of the way it works out. Sometimes there are holes when the other guy is in. We go and watch that every week.”
I, for one, am an Eddie Gran supporter, but I just can’t find a way to wrap my head around the ‘a lot of the time it happens like that, because of the way it works out‘ as an explanation for Rose still getting nearly 16 carries a game compared to Smoke’s 11.
The proof is in the pudding, and Smoke has clearly been the leading back out of that backfield through a quarter of the season. It seemed like Kentucky trusted Smoke down the stretch last night, and maybe they will make that adjustment going forward this season.