HATTIESBURG, Miss. — Kentucky’s offense revolves around running the ball, but it struggled to do so in a 24-17 win Saturday at Southern Miss.
Sophomore running back Benny Snell, known for his straight-ahead, tackle-breaking runs, was stopped over and over again at the line of scrimmage. Offensive coordinator Eddie Gran continued to dial up snaps to Snell in the wildcat without much progress.
“I probably got a little bit too stubborn, probably could’ve opened it up a little bit,” Gran admitted after the game. “Defense had it hand. They were really getting after their tail and part of me wishes probably that I had opened it up a little bit, but at the same time, we’ve got to be tough, we’ve got to run the ball.”
Snell carried 20 times for 67 yards — an average of 3.4 yards per carry. If quarterback Stephen Johnson and second-team running back Sihiem King’s rushing numbers are added, Kentucky averaged just 2.2 yards per pop on the ground.
Gran kept Kentucky’s passing attack to a minimum. Johnson was 11 for 20 with 176 yards and a touchdown. An “alright” performance, he said. Johnson ran for another score and didn’t seem bothered at his lack of opportunities.
“It seemed like the wildcat had worked for a little bit, but whatever was working, I just wanted to get the ‘W’ like we did today,” Johnson said. “Even though it was an ugly one, we got it.”
Gran said the run game lost its continuity when center Bunchy Stallings left with an ankle injury. Stallings managed to return by the end of the game, but his absence coupled with what Gran characterized as impatient running backs slowed the ground game.
“It is what it is,” Snell said. “I just run whatever [Gran] calls. I could notice as the game went on that they were stacking the box a little bit more.”
Kentucky’s run game was led behind one of the best offensive lines in the SEC last year, but the losses of Jon Toth, Ramsey Meyers and an injury to Cole Mosier has the flow of the offense in flux after the first week of the season.
“I’m fired up,” Gran said. “I can’t wait because all we can do is get better. We have a long way to go.”
Watch: OC Eddie Gran on running the wildcat
Watch: Mark Stoops’ postgame press conference
The post Kentucky football: OC Eddie Gran says he was ‘too stubborn’ with wildcat formation appeared first on SEC Country.