By LARRY VAUGHT
Forget the opponent. When any team can rush for a school-record 462 yards when the opponent knows the team has no passing attack, it’s still impressive.
Kentucky did just that Saturday against Tennessee-Martin when it ran for 462 yards just one week after going over the 400-yard rushing mark against Vanderbilt, the first time UK has ever rushed for 400 plus yards two games in a row.
The Cats also held UT-Martin to minus 12 yards — giving UK a plus 474 yards in rushing.
“If you outrush them like that, I can pretty much tell you it’s going to be 100 percent (that UK will win). If not, I’ll take it some day,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said after the 50-7 win. “But when you outrush somebody by whatever, 470 yards, yeah, you have a pretty good opportunity to win.”
Stoops said he didn’t know about breaking the single-game rushing record set in 1951 until after the game.
“I had no idea. Somebody told me we’re pretty close and we kept taking a knee going backwards (on the final two plays and losing yards). I didn’t want to do that to our team, so I wanted to give them an opportunity to go forward but it didn’t affect it (the record),” Stoops said.
Considering how UK has had to change its offense with receiver Lynn Bowden at quarterback — and yes he went over 100 yards rushing again — it’s even more impressive than three of the UK’s top seven all-time rushing efforts have come this season.
“I never really thought about it like that. It’s one of the things you think about afterwards. You’re just in the moment, trying to find the best opportunity to win. Just, again, really appreciate our coaches, Coach Gran, Coach Hinshaw, Coach Schlarman. All those guys have done a remarkable job being physical and running the ball, and another really sloppy day,” Stoops said about the wet , rainy conditions.
“When was the last time we had three games like with this kind of weather? Probably been a while. You guys (in the media) covered it for a while, but I know it’s been since, the first time since I’ve been here we’ve had three games here like this where it’s been that cold and rainy and really nasty out there, so rushing the ball really helps.”
Yes it does. Bowden ran 11 times for 135 yards. A.J. Rose ran six times for 105 yards. Freshman Travis Tisdale got four fourth-quarter rushes and went for 60 yards and a score. Walk-on Tyler Markray had a 52-yard scoring run. Chris Rodriguez ran six times for 53 yards. He scored a touchdown just like Rose and Bowden (two) did. Kavosiey Smoke rushed 11 times for 43 yards. Even backup quarterback Sawyer Smith ran on two straight plays and went for 20 yards — probably just to give Louisville something to think about in case he gets in the game against the Cardinals.
Rose knew nothing about the record until after the game. However, he knew where the credit belonged.
“Whatever that record was we did run the ball good, but you know that all goes to the O line. They did a great job — all three groups, first, second and third string,” Rose, who had a 63-yard scoring run, said.” I feel great being a part of breaking a record here and have never been a part of that, so it’s pretty exciting.”