By LARRY VAUGHT
South Carolina did what no other team has been able to do this year during the second half of last week’s game — it shut down Kentucky running back Benny Snell.
The 13th-ranked Cats play at Texas A&M Saturday night. The Aggies are allowing only 85 rushing yards per game — and remember they have played both Alabama and Clemson, two of the nation’s best teams.
Kentucky is averaging 260 yards rushing per game and Snell has 664 yards rushing and eight touchdowns in five games.
Count Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher as one who is impressed with Snell.
“I think we are playing the run really well and that’s one of the things in that game we did an excellent job of… and we are going to have to. We are going to get challenged,” Fisher said Monday. “When there’s no yards there, and we look down and say, ‘Boy, we got him — it’s second and five.’ I’ve never seen a guy that can wiggle … for a lack of a better term.”
That led Fisher to admit that Snell reminds him of former Florida All-American Emmitt Smith, an all-pro running back with Dallas.
“Emmitt had all the big plays and all that, but Emmitt made yards on everything he did,” Fisher said “Back in the day when you really watched him, and you think, ‘Well, they got him.’ At the end of the day, he’d have 25 carries for about 160. Where did that come from? It’s just constantly moving the chains.
“He (Snell) is strong and powerful and all of a sudden, he breaks out. He’s very patient. He finds space in places where there shouldn’t be. It’s going to be a huge challenge.”
Smith had 18,335 rushing yards, still a NFL record. To be compared to Smith shows how good Snell has been.
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said Kentucky helped South Carolina slow down Snell by getting into difficult situations to run. But he also credit Carolina’s defense.
“When you get off schedule, things change a little bit. The first drive (of third quarter) was phenomenal. Then you come back and you credit them. They definitely won some one-on-ones where we won in the first half. That’s part of it,” Stoops said.
“There’s things that we can do better. There’s some execution issues, holds, there were some missed assignments, things that we can clean up.”