Coming into this season, Kentucky fans put a lot of eggs in Benny Snell’s basket. He had all of the components: a breakout freshman season where he set six UK freshman rushing records, positive notes from summer practices and a starting position that was, barring any unforeseen circumstances, guaranteed. Left without Boom Williams and Jeff Badet, Kentucky’s offense was resting heavily on the shoulders of Benny Snell.
Then the season started.
Although Snell was the leading rusher during Kentucky’s opener against Southern Miss, his 67 yards were hardly the explosive statistic fans were expecting. The sophomore came back stronger during the Eastern Kentucky and South Carolina games, recording 103 and 102 rushing yards, respectively, despite a rib injury that initially took him out of the EKU game.
But just when it looked like Snell was hitting his stride, his yardage once again dropped. He finished with just 59 yards against Florida and 75 yards against Eastern Michigan.
In Saturday’s victory, fans saw glimpses of the Snell they were expecting coming into this season. The running back finished with 117 rushing yards, including a much-needed answer to a Missouri touchdown with a career-long 71-yard TD of his own. He has now rushed for more than 100 yards in five of the last six home games, and he scored his sixth rushing touchdown of the season.
– SEC Network (@SECNetwork) October 8, 2017
So… is his groove back?
“I feel like I got it back, but I still got a lot of work to do,” Snell said. “I still can’t be comfortable. Can’t be comfortable. I always got to stay uncomfortable and stay trying to learn – make sure my cuts are faster and read better.”
The Cats are now 5-1, and with a Bye week followed by four games that are widely considered “winnable,” Kentucky has a chance to regroup. While going 9-1 is no easy task, it’s far from impossible, especially if Snell continues to play efficiently and with intensity. Even though he may not have the same level of O-line support as last season, Saturday’s victory is proof Snell can still create explosive plays. As Coach Stoops said after Saturday’s game, the rest of the season will consist of “tough, hard fought-games.” But this is nothing new to this group of Wildcats, as the last three games have come down to the final play.
“5-1 baby! I’m happy we’re 5-1, we’ve come a long way from last year,” Snell said. “After every game I feel like we’re our own enemy, we’re our own critic. So us just getting better, on every side of the ball we did our thing… I got to step up more too. A ‘W’ is a ‘W,’ I’m happy we’re where we’re at right now.”