The 2020 college football season is a balancing act for Kavosiey Smoke.
The redshirt sophomore from Wetumpka, Alabama cannot wait to return to the field. Once he gets there, to succeed he must consistently be patient to pick apart opponents.
Week one can’t come soon enough. Smoke grew up only 50 miles west of Auburn, a school that showed some interest during his recruitment but never pulled the trigger and extended a scholarship offer. I think it’s safe to say that Smoke is happy he’ll get a shot at both Auburn and Alabama on the road this fall.
“I’m ready, just know that. I ain’t got nothing else to say,” Smoke said on Tuesday. “I’m just ready to play.”
"I'm ready, just know that. I ain't got nothing else to say. I'm just ready to play"
– @_KS20_ on facing his home state schools this year.
Full press conference: https://t.co/clafOLptyl pic.twitter.com/hHX4tfOiWE
— UK Sports Network (@UKSportsNetwork) September 8, 2020
Smoke got off to a fast start in his first season of action. In his first three games he rushed for 251 yards and two touchdowns on 7.4 yards per carry. As the physicality wore on Smoke, production slowed to a crawl in the middle of the season. This offseason he improved his body to mitigate injury chance.
“The biggest thing is he’s been healthy. It seems like every camp since he’s been here something’s gone wrong with a soft tissue, even in the spring. (This preseason) he’s made it through every single practice,” said offensive coordinator and running backs coach Eddie Gran.
The midseason lull Smoke experienced isn’t so different than what Benny Snell went through as a sophomore in 2017. Eager and anxious to make plays, he had to become a patient runner to let the Big Blue Wall create running lanes. Smoke studied defenses this offseason to learn how to spot holes before they are opened.
“I had to figure out how to be patient,” Smoke said. “The physical part, I’ve always been physical. I got a little speed on me now since I got lean. I really just slowed down and learned the playbook and learned how to read defenses.”
Smoke has also become a more vocal member of the offense. Gran has seen him transform into a leader. The final piece of the puzzle is a word Gran has used day after day after day this offseason, “consistency.”
“I’m going to sound like a broken record, but it’s consistency with him too,” said Gran, “understanding the offense, seeing the big picture back there and when the bullets fly and things are coming fast, communicating and understanding that communication and getting everything done. He is certainly working at it. We’ve got some ways to go but I love where he’s at right now, a lot further along than he’s ever been.”
The most consistent running back will be the one who receives the majority of the carries. No matter how they are divided up in the crowded room, there’s no animosity between the running backs.
“It was never about who’s getting the carry, who’s getting the catch,” said Smoke. “It was all about winning the game, finish the game, make the team proud.”
If the Wildcats can pick up two wins in particular this fall in the Heart of Dixie, nobody will be prouder than Kavosiey Smoke.