One of New Mexico State’s most critical weapons will not play at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday, Coach Doug Martin confirmed to the Herald-Leader on Thursday.
Star running back Larry Rose, a Third Team All-American and Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Year last season, will continue to sit out after offseason sports hernia surgery.
Rose, who rushed for 1,651 yards last season and 14 touchdowns on 240 carries last season, likely will be back for the Aggies’ game against Troy next week, Martin said.
“He’s not only our best player; he’s the best player in the Sun Belt Conference,” Martin said of Rose on Monday. “That makes a difference. Our other running backs I think will handle the load, but we don’t just get as many explosion plays as we did with Larry. That’s the thing that’s slowing our running game down a bit right now.”
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Rose broke the all-time single season rushing record for New Mexico State during week 10 last season while averaging 6.9 yards a carry. He had three different 200-yard rushing games last year and seven of 100 yards or more.
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound junior would have been an invaluable piece of the Aggies offense against UK’s defense, which is 118th nationally in rushing defense, allowing 253 yards a game.
So far the Aggies have split carries between Xavier Hall and Jason Huntley, who have combined for 123 yards on 30 carries with two touchdowns.
On Wednesday, UK defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot said the defense was prepping as if Rose’s return was imminent.
While Rose has been on the mend, much of the Aggies’ running success has come thanks to quarterback Tyler Rogers, who is averaging 42 yards a game that way. He’s had an average of 12 attempts per game and has scored once that way.
“His running ability has really helped us,” Martin said of the senior, who has passed for 411 yards and two touchdowns in the first two games (completing 38 of 76 passes). “It’s helped our running game stay alive. We’re going to need him to continue to do that, but also stay healthy.”
Herald-Leader staff writer Mark Story contributed to this report.