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Kentucky has their new ‘Go-To’ on Offense

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UK Athletics

Over his five years at Kentucky, warranted or not, Eddie Gran has been one of the polarizing figures in the program. Not because of anything he’s said or done, but because a lot of fans don’t agree with his type of playcalling. No coach is immune to that. Regardless of what you think of Gran, you can’t deny his success at Kentucky. The biggest part of his success has been the ability to find an offensive identity each and every season. From Benny Snell grinding out a defense and letting Stephen Johnson make the heroic plays, to letting Lynn Bowden run wild on opposing defense, Eddie Gran always has a certain ‘go-to’. Through the first three games this season, Gran struggled to find that go-to, to find an identity, but after Kentucky’s 34-7 victory against Tennessee, Eddie Gran may have found his go-to in the second half.

That go-to is Chris Rodriguez.

In the first half, Gran tried out the AJ Rose experience again, but after only getting 22 yards on ten carries, it was evident he shouldn’t be a feature back. Now, don’t get me wrong, from a fan’s perspective you’d be crazy to think there’s not a place for AJ Rose in this offense, but the biggest takeaway from Saturday is Chris Rodriguez is that dude in the backfield. It’s trendy to call him ‘mini-Benny’, but he’s earned that with his running style and the ability to wear down a defense. On 13 carriers yesterday, Rodriguez rushed for 75 yards and a touchdown averaging over five yards a carry.

In the first half, Kentucky’s drive chart went: punt, fumble, punt, field goal, punt.

On those five drives, Rodriguez touched the ball only three times, once on 2nd & 11.

When Kentucky’s offense came out on the field for the first time after halftime, the defense had just forced a three and out, and Kentucky would lead a death march of a drive going 76 yards in 11 plays to extend their lead to three possessions. On that drive, Rodriguez toted the rock five times for 36 yards, extending the drive on a 3rd & 1 en route to Kentucky’s first offensive touchdown in four quarters. 

Two drives later, Rodriguez got the ball five times and gashed the Tennessee defense for 30 yards, capping it off with a touchdown to put the dagger in Vol Nation, solidifying himself as the lead back in the offense.

This is the deepest running back I room I can ever remember at Kentucky. When Kavosiey Smoke gets back into the fold Kentucky will have 4-5 running backs who can all bring something to the table, but from where I’m sitting, Chris Rodriguez is now the go-to guy for this offense. If Rodriguez can consistently wear down a defense as he did on Saturday, that leaves room for AJ Rose and Kavoisey Smoke to hit their home runs once or twice a game, reminiscent of what Benny and Boom did in 2016. Throw that rushing attack in with a successful short passing attack that worked yesterday, and Terry Wilison’s rushing ability, this team can grind out some victories, as long as they’re not behind the chains.

Chris Rodriguez is this offense’s new go-to, and now that Kentucky finally has an identity, I fully expect this offense to get moving in the right direction.

Article written by Brent Wainscott

Twitter: @BrentWainscott_

25 Comments for Kentucky has their new ‘Go-To’ on Offense

  1. kjd
    4:36 pm October 18, 2020 Permalink

    IMO, one of the young backs need to be given a shot at #2 and move AJ down to #3.

  2. Trekkev
    4:51 pm October 18, 2020 Permalink

    Rose hasn’t had much success up the middle. When he does have or find a hole, seems like he’s always tripped up. Edge / off tackle rushes and passes out of the backfield seem to be his strengths IMO. Smoke and Rodriguez are just better options between the tackles. Especially in short yardage situations where you only need a yard or two.

  3. tdub
    4:51 pm October 18, 2020 Permalink

    Agree 100%

  4. cats646
    4:53 pm October 18, 2020 Permalink

    I think we should only use rose on outside plays/passing out of the backfield. He’s just a very average RB.

    • goteam94
      5:05 pm October 18, 2020 Permalink

      Rose is a very average back who has benefited from a very above average Oline. Rodriquez and smoke should be 1-2

    • michaelb
      5:25 pm October 19, 2020 Permalink

      McLain is better than rose but rose is still hella useful . It’s like this 1 . Crod 2. McLain 3. Rose & smoke being a change of pace back

    • cats646
      7:55 am October 19, 2020 Permalink

      You’re right. Rose has had a couple runs that made me think “wow, this guy is special” but then right after that he fumbles or gets stuffed at the line for tiptoeing into the wrong hole. He’s talented, but not that good.

  5. bigbluebg
    5:53 pm October 18, 2020 Permalink

    I’ve literally been saying CRod should be RB1 since early last season.

    He’s built like a Bama RB…how was it not obvious that he should get the lions share of the carries. He fumbled early in his freshman year and got benched.

    But the other dudes also fumbled soooo why did they get multiple opportunities. Makes no sense other than Gran likes smaller backs.

    • east-ky-boy
      11:32 pm October 18, 2020 Permalink

      Depth chart should be Crod, smoke when he’s back McClain then rose. Like terry Wilson, for everyone good thing he does, he makes 2 dumb mistakes.

    • rockatao
      8:55 am October 19, 2020 Permalink

      Everyone but Gran knew this last year.

  6. blueblood80
    6:23 pm October 18, 2020 Permalink

    RB room looks well stocked with talent- freshman McClain looks like a future star…

    • nybrasky
      12:46 am October 19, 2020 Permalink

      And we haven’t even gotten to see Donut Drennan yet.

  7. Miller45
    6:27 pm October 18, 2020 Permalink

    A crowded backfield is a problem im fine with having

  8. ThankfulCat
    6:30 pm October 18, 2020 Permalink

    Those run lanes won’t be there 10/31. Better throw the ball or no shot.

  9. Bluehender
    7:06 pm October 18, 2020 Permalink

    Well if he’s going to be our go to guy, how about we get him a few more touches…

  10. Daddyof3Ballers
    9:10 pm October 18, 2020 Permalink

    RPO’s with CRod and Gates= go to offense

  11. UKinIN
    9:40 pm October 18, 2020 Permalink

    Funny how we all complain about AJ but he keeps his starting job. I have no idea if he’s a good kid or not. I’ve never heard of him causing trouble. But he’s not producing like you need from RB1.

  12. railcat
    9:49 pm October 18, 2020 Permalink

    It’s taken them this long to realize C-Rod is the better back??? This has been a no brainer for the casual fan for over a year…

  13. jaws2
    10:37 pm October 18, 2020 Permalink

    Chris should have been playing more long before now. He’s willing and able to run through people. The guys a bull.

  14. blueballs80
    2:49 am October 19, 2020 Permalink

    Gran said, make me play you, well CRod deserves to be be rb 1. Feed CRod and good things will happen.

  15. Mathlete
    9:52 am October 19, 2020 Permalink

    I saw more from McClain than Rose. I respect his loyalty to the program sticking it out for so long behind Benny, but he’s just not producing what we need and puts the ball on the ground WAY too often.

  16. WILDCATS1968
    10:21 am October 19, 2020 Permalink

    Rose is fine, he has made some really big plays for us, not going to bash the kid. BUT, he puts the ball on the ground too much for my liking and tends to go down on first contact. Can’t have that in the SEC, you have to be able to always fall foward and get the extra tough yard or two. AJ just does not have the strength or ability to do that. He still has a place on this offense, just not as the featured back. Bash Gran all you want, but the dude has not been dealt a great situation every year and had to adjust on the fly. He made the change, now lets see what happens going foward.

    AJ stats as the featured back :

    2018 – 71 carries / 442 yards / 6.2 yards per carry/ 8TD’s / 8 rec. for 82 yards / 6.3 yards per reception. / 1TD
    2019 – 149 carries for 826 yards / 5.5 yards per carry / 6 TD’s / 11 reception for 67 yards / 6.1 yards per reception.
    2020 – 40 carries / 192 yards / 4.8 yards per carry / 1 TD / 6 receptions / 48 yards / 8 yards per reception.

    Total for 2.4 years :

    260 carries / 1460 yards / 5.62 yards per carry / 15 TD’s / 25 receptions / 197 yards / 7.88 yards per reception

  17. millertim
    11:14 am October 19, 2020 Permalink

    We still need Rose. He’s more explosive through the hole and has breakaway speed, but yes, Rodriquez is the BEST RB. He runs with authority and anger— similar to Snell and is harder to bring down. Not likely as Rose to fumble. Rose and Smoke are still very valuable explosive backs to offset CR’s ground and pound style!

    11:14 am October 19, 2020 Permalink

    Depth chart for rb from here on out: CRod, Smoke, Rose/McCain/Tisdale as the 3rd backs depending on flow of game and in game production. I just think it’s time to move on from Rose being a top 2 rb on our depth chart

  19. michaelb
    5:27 pm October 19, 2020 Permalink

    Been a long time since we’ve had these first world problems lol