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Mark Stoops says all three running backs providing “explosive” plays

Chris Rodriguez (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops says running back Chris Rodriguez had a 1-on-1 challenge on third down at the Tennessee one-yard line to get into the end zone to win the game that he just didn’t win.

“It was hard on Chris because normally we expect him to get that yard with a profile run, near leg and near shoulder, and run him over, get him sideways, but the way he saw it kind of late, he squared him up, made a good goal line tackle there,” Stoops said. “If Chris has a little better vision, he could get him a little bit more on his side and get that yard or jump. It just wasn’t clean. It’s not on Chris, they (Tennessee’s defense) made a nice play.”

Rodriguez has become the back UK seems to expect to get tough yardage like Benny Snell did the three previous years for Stoops.

“I think Chris is one of those guys that you see him getting those very tough yards. I think each of our backs have been very productive and given us a lot and given us explosive plays. I’m not jabbing at anybody, but early in the year it’s like, ‘Why aren’t you playing this guy,’ or ‘Why aren’t you playing that guy,’ it’s like every game it could be this back (or another),” Stoops said.

“All three of them have given us explosive plays and have looked very dynamic at times. They are all deserving of the reps they’re getting, they’ve all done some really good things.”

Stoops was vague on possibly changing the running back rotation — some fans have been clamoring for Rodriguez to get more carries than A.J. Rose — for Saturday’s must-win game at Vanderbilt.

“At this point, it’s probably more fans and the media make more of that than we do because during the game, you don’t know where those explosive runs are going to play. You have to realize, there are a lot of things that are RPOs (run-pass option) on that as well, where he’s handing it off,” Stoops said.

“There were times we had some throws in there as well. With RPOs, Lynn (Bowden) again, just looking at it, once he looks at it on film, I could have thrown this one, he had a few options there, to throw a little bit more.”

Stoops said it’s “fair” to note that some running backs do things better than others but called it “splitting hairs” to try to pick which one to play on certain situations.

“Maybe some guys are better at a gap scheme, maybe he’s reading things better, hitting it tighter, trusting it, than others.  But in general you’re splitting hairs there,” Stoops said.

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  1. For some reason I get the impression Mark Stoops and I aren’t watching the same games. Some of the things he describes I never see in these games and things I see and statistics I read he says didn’t happen or are irrelevant. I’m confused.

  2. I agree with Keith. I have no problem deciding which running back to play. Start Smoke as the number one back. Chris is the number two back and short yardage situations. AJ Rose in non pressure situation! He gets stopped at the line more times than not. If he can get past the line, he can be very explosive. Rose will never make it at the next level unless he can toughen up. What is so complicated about those three?

    1. It’s only complicated for Stoops/Gran because they play their favorites and don’t have the guts to take some risk. I think Smoke was out for at least 2 quarters and that is disgusting. Rose would also be my #3 option as well.

  3. Stoops is stuck on AJ Rose as starter and primary running back. When Smoke and Rodriguez go in and make great plays to continue the drive, we go back to Rose and the drive stalls! Why Stoops and Gran do this is a mystery to the fans? It is like they are watching a different game and have no clue why people are upset.

  4. Stoops goes with AJ because he does not “Trust” the young guys to not fumble as much as he trusts AJ.
    Stats and visual evidence mean nothing to Stoops. He goes with his gut even if that means keep on his “Rose” colored glasses (pun intended).
    AJ would be a lot better with swing passes, but heaven forbid if we ever saw a pass going to a back more than once in a game. He does not have the ability to break through a line. First contact, and he hits the ground.
    Stoops or Gran, not sure which one, but one or maybe both of them have a real problem trusting young players.

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