By LARRY VAUGHT
First-year Mississippi State coach Joe Moorhead certainly knows plenty about Kentucky junior running back Benny Snell going into Saturday night’s game at Kroger Field.
“His talent production kind of speaks for itself. He’s an All-SEC player, 5-11 and 225 pounds,” Moorhead said Monday. “In a lot of ways, he’s similar to some of our guys. He can run between the tackles. He can break it out in the open. He’s a good receiver out in the backfield.”
Snell is averaging 125 yards rushing per game this year. He’s had two straight 1,000-yard seasons for UK and is on track to become UK’s all-time leading rusher. However, he managed just 18 yards on seven carries in last year’s loss to Mississippi State.
Moorhead, a former Penn State assistant coach, watched the Kentucky-Mississippi State game from last year and watched how the Bulldogs contained Snell, something no other team did.
“I think (defensive coordinator) Coach (Bob) Shoop and his staff do a real good job exhausting all of the possible scenarios and ways to bottle up a guy like that. He’s a guy that, I think, you’re not necessarily going to stop him, but you’re just looking for ways to contain him because he is talented,” Moorhead said.
“I think their offensive line averages over 315 pounds across the board. It’s another team, like us, that I think prides themselves on their physicality, their effort and how hard they play. I think that’s something that you see across the board with Kentucky.
“Like with any great back, you got to make sure you have great gap integrity, make sure you do a great job with your gang tackling and getting a bunch of hats to the ball. With this guy and how physical he is and guys bounce off tackles, you can’t be on the edge of him. If you’re going to arm-tackle him, he’s going to run through it.”