Benny Snell credits offensive line
Former Kentucky star Moe Williams has known Benny Snell was special since early in fall camp.
As the freshman running back neared some of Williams’ 20-year-old rushing records, Williams urged him on.
“Don’t leave a record unbroken; break them all,” said Williams, who has returned to Kentucky this season as a student assistant while he finishes his degree in hopes of becoming a coach full time.
Snell did just that on Saturday night at Commonwealth Stadium in Kentucky’s 49-13 win over Austin Peay.
With his 48-yard touchdown run out of the wildcat formation, Snell broke Williams’ record for rushing yards by a Kentucky freshman (854).
Moe Williams was there to greet him when he came off the field after the big run.
“He said, ‘Good job. Just keep going forward. Just keep going,’” said Snell, who ran for 152 yards and two touchdowns in the bowl-clinching victory.
“It was nice to have Moe here,” Coach Mark Stoops said. “And Moe give him the hug when he broke it. And I thought it was significant for him.”
It also was significant for Snell and Kentucky that the freshman back later went over 1,000 yards rushing. The Cats hadn’t had a 1,000-yard rusher since 2007, and this season they’ve managed to have two in Snell and junior Boom Williams.
“To have two over 1,000 was a great mark for the team,” Stoops said. “And all those guys, it was good to get Jojo (Kemp) in there and get him some touchdowns. So it was just a good night overall.”
Stoops called the freshman a “strong, steady, disciplined player.
“He’s physically strong, he has great balance and vision for his size, and he’s a solid guy. He’s a disciplined guy. So, I think that he’s been good for us.”
But Snell didn’t want to have any of the credit.
“It makes me feel good,” he said of breaking the record and getting over 1,000 yards on Saturday night.
“But I don’t have that big of a part in that. All the credit goes to the linemen. I praise those guys every day and I’m nothing without them. It feels real good to be a part of that. I love that o-line so much.”
Snell and Boom Williams have combined for 2,078 yards so far this season, breaking the record for the most yards by a UK duo in school history, breaking a record set in 1974.
Snell mainly wanted to talk about his “big brother” Kemp, who got two touchdowns as well in the victory.
The two talked about the possibilities of a bowl game the night before at the hotel.
“We were talking about it and how happy he would be and all that,” Snell said. “We finally got the win. We said we love each other. It just makes me feel good.”
For Kemp, it was a night he won’t soon forget.
“I’m going to forever bleed blue and the Wild Kemp will live on at Commonwealth, baby,” he smiled.
And the locker room after clinching the bowl?
“Just full of excitement and joy, knowing we took a step forward today,” Kemp said.
Quarterback Stephen Johnson, who didn’t start on Saturday because of some soreness in his left knee, said holding him out was just precautionary and he expects to play on Saturday at Louisville.
“None really,” he said when asked about pain. “I’m at about 95 percent. It was just a precautionary thing, just holding me out. I feel great.”
The quarterback came in to relieve walk-on Luke Wright, who threw a pick-six to put the Governors up 13-0 early.
“We didn’t put him in the best situation,” Stoops said of Wright, who closed out the win and finished the night completing three of four pass attempts for 28 yards. “We put him in a bad situation to start the game. And that’s on the team, not on Luke.”
In relief, Johnson, wearing a brace on his left knee, helped the Cats turn things around completing five of nine passes for 101 yards and two touchdowns.
“I know a lot of other quarterbacks wear it on their left leg to step into their throws, so they put me into one,” he said.
Tight end touchdown
Tight end C.J. Conrad and quarterback Stephen Johnson had been working on that play all season and Conrad was happy it finally worked when he was able to make an acrobatic catch for a touchdown in the victory.
“Me and Stephen got on the same page,” said Conrad, who scored his fourth touchdown of the season on that 14-yard grab and also dinged up his shoulder a little bit again. “It was fun.
“We were excited. Now hopefully we can keep it going. Last two games we’ve been connecting. We’ve been practicing a lot, so it’s starting to come together.”
News and notes
Kentucky safety Mike Edwards had been waiting a long time for his first interception of the season, but he made the most of it, taking the errant pass 46 yards to set up UK’s first touchdown.
“About time,” he smiled of his second career pick.
▪ Linebacker Jordan Jones led Kentucky with eight tackles, including two for loss and a sack. … Five other Cats had seven tackles apiece, including seniors Blake McClain and Marcus McWilson along with Denzil Ware, Marcus Walker and Kash Daniel.