Stoops, the Wildcats’ head coach, and offensive coordinator Gran synced up on the particular terminology in spring camp. They’d rather tell players “whoa” (slow down) than “giddy up” (work harder).
And Snell, Kentucky’s star sophomore running back, has been a “Whoa” guy through Kentucky’s 10 spring practices.
“His passion for the game is so great,” Gran said. “And so you’ve got to kind of control him a little bit, slow him down. Again, another one you’ve got to say, ‘whoa’ to and not ‘giddy up.’ And I’d rather have it that way.”
Snell emerged as a leader for Kentucky’s offense in 2016 despite not having a carry in his first two games. But in Week 3 against New Mexico State, Snell began his 1,000-yard rushing campaign. He broke the Kentucky freshman rushing record.
Snell was asked after practice on Tuesday what it meant to be a “Whoa” guy, and what Gran wants him to hold back.
“Probably like in a scrimmage,” Snell said. “Guys are getting after it and I’m just running hard. I’m a hard runner. He’ll take me out or he’ll say to not go so hard. Just things of that nature, ’cause I try to get real competitive with the defense.”
Some of that competitiveness comes in the form of trash talk. Snell, with a smile, politely declined to detail what kinds of things he says to Kentucky’s first-team defense.
But Gran has to tell him to cut the trash talk at times.
“Benny’s a passionate football player,” Gran said. “Not a lot of people have as much passion, but he’s got to learn to control that.”
Snell’s signature running style is a bruising one. He’s not so much interested in avoiding tacklers as taking them on. His trademark runs as a freshman often came with defenders draping off him as his legs continued a forward fight.
“At times I have to reason with him,” Stoops said. “He gets frustrated when he gets tackled. He’s gonna get tackled.”
Again, it’s whoa instead of giddy up.
But there’s at least one teammate who doesn’t restrain the giddy up in Snell’s game.
“I love that passion from Benny,” Johnson said. “That’s the type of drive and the type of guy I want to follow into this offense.”