UK Football

These two Kentucky players waited their turn. Saturday was their time to shine.

If Mark Stoops wants an example for his youngest players to be patient and wait their turn to get on the field, he can call running back A.J. Rose and middle linebacker Kash Daniel up to the front of the room.

Both Rose and Daniel had huge games in Kentucky’s 35-20 victory over Central Michigan on Saturday, which pleased the UK head coach.

“Kash is a guy that’s hard not to root for,” Stoops said of the junior from Paintsville who had a team-high 11 tackles and two quarterback hurries. “Very unselfish. For those years he was sitting there behind Courtney (Love), didn’t say a word.”

Instead Daniel was always asking how he could help on special teams or any other way, Stoops said.

“And that’s what I told the guys in there,” the head coach continued.

“The young guys gotta understand that and learn that. We have a great example of some older guys that have paid their dues and worked on it, and we have very good leadership on this team. So I’m excited and we’ll get some guys in gear and get them going.”

Kentucky running back A.J. Rose amassed more yards on Saturday than he did all of last season. He finished with 104 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries. Alex Slitz

Rose is another example of that. The sophomore running back sat out his freshman year and then struggled to get on the field as a sophomore.

But he kept working hard and finished Saturday night with eight carries for 104 yards and two touchdowns, including a 55-yarder to open the Cats’ scoring.

“He’s one of those guys that’s kind of matured, and it’s been not easy for him, you know, all the way through,” Stoops said of Rose, who averaged 13 yards a carry.

“He is another great example of just kind of looking at himself and seeing what he can do better and not pouting and crying and all those things, and he kind of just went about his business. He took the coaching, improved himself, and you’re seeing that. So I’m very proud of that.”

Fellow running back Benny Snell, who had 125 yards and two touchdowns despite battling a virus, was proud of his roommate, too.

“We’re on it now,” Snell said of Rose. “We woke him up.

“This is a long time coming. This was our plan before the season. It’s just all coming into play now.”

Rose was excited to find some success in this game, where he amassed more yardage in the opener than he did in all of his games combined last year.

“It feels great,” he said. “It helps my confidence level to go out there and play well.”

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader