LEXINGTON, Ky. — There’s no secret to Benny Snell.
Kentucky knows it doesn’t need to disguise its usage of the freshman running back. Whether out of the wildcat formation or from a Stephen Johnson handoff, Snell is going to get the ball, bowling forward until someone’s big enough to bring him down.
The 5-foot-11, 220-pound back carried the ball on 10 of 14 plays in Kentucky’s final drive that tied the game until Georgia’s offense reclaimed the ball and clinched the win. Snell rushed 9 straight times during one stretch.
The crowd at Commonwealth Stadium chanted his name. The fans knew what was coming. As did Georgia coach Kirby Smart and everyone tuning in from their couch. Snell and the 21 players beside and in front of him knew, too.
“It just got hard toward the end,” Snell said. “They knew it was coming. The linebackers were just flowing to the ball. But, like I said before, I could’ve ran somebody over. I could’ve gotten the first down. I could’ve gotten into the end zone. I failed. I’m gonna do better.”
Yet so many times he did run somebody over. He got a handful of first downs and found the end zone twice, breaking Randall Cobb’s record for most touchdowns by a Kentucky freshman. Better is a relative term but it’s hard to imagine the broad shouldered back doing more.
Oh my. Benny Freaking Snell Jr. pic.twitter.com/iWAtDN5Hfd
— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) November 6, 2016
“He puts a lot on him and he’s a very competitive person,” offensive coordinator Eddie Gran said. “Again, we had some good plays all the way up until the 9-yard line and then we didn’t finish. At the end of the day we didn’t finish.”
And that’s what Snell was stuck on after the game. The 114 yards on 21 carries went by the wayside. Kentucky couldn’t score 7 on its final drive and a game tying field goal wasn’t enough.
Snell rushed for 192 yards on 38 carries the week before at Missouri. He wasn’t used as heavily against Georgia in the shared backfield with junior Boom Williams. Snell was the guy over and over again on Kentucky’s final drive, but coach Mark Stoops said after the game that it’s fair to think Snell should’ve been used earlier and more often.
“I was thinking that and talking to them about that, yeah, on a possession or two,” Stoops said. “But you can’t let anyone call — I had some calls that I wish I could do over, too. I definitely do.”
Snell’s Kentucky career is nine games old. He’s gotten carries in just seven of them, yet he’s already found a way to confound the defenses trying to slow him — even when they know what’s coming.
“I hear them arguing and blaming it on one another,” Snell said. “But I’m just playing football, so I just keep it moving.”
Keeping it moving, and as he often says, always falling forward.
It’s no secret.