To beat Central Michigan on September 1, Kentucky must contain No. 5.
Running back Jonathan Ward is the Chippewas’ most dangerous offensive weapon. Last season he was a Second Team All-MAC selection after rushing for 1,017 yards, the third-highest mark in the MAC. Ward averaged 5.7 yards per carry and scored ten touchdowns for the eight-win team.
Excellent in space, it’s hard to catch Ward once he gets by the second level of the defense. Last year he scored on plays of 79 and 54 yards, and in Saturday’s scrimmage he went untouched on a 70-yard score.
Those numbers are great, but you’re probably thinking to yourself, “It’s just the MAC. Who cares how good this Ward guy was against a bunch of nobodies.” Pump those brakes.
Kentucky shared a common 2017 opponent with Central Michigan: Eastern Michigan. In September, EMU held Benny Snell to only 75 yards rushing yards and one touchdown on 21 carries (3.6 yards per carry). The Cats squeaked by EMU with a 24-20 win. When CMU played Eastern Michigan a month later, Ward ran for a season-high 159 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries (8.4 ypc) in a 42-30 victory. This guy is the real deal.
As is with every highlight, watch these on mute.
What makes Ward even more dangerous is his pass-catching ability. Last season he caught 48 passes (3.7 per game) for 470 yards (that’s 9.8 yards per reception) and a touchdown. With first-time starter Tony Poljan under center, the Chippewas will lean on the junior running back to ignite the offense. Kentucky must suffocate Ward before he can bust a big play for a score.