To break a record, a hot start is an absolute necessity. Chris Rodriguez Jr. has done that through two games.
The redshirt junior tailback entered the season with 1,361 career rushing yards and 17 touchdowns but had yet to receive a full workload as RB1. With a new offensive coordinator planning to center the offensive attack around the Metro Atlanta native’s skillset, many believed Rodriguez could be the player to break a long-standing record.
“It would be hard for me to say right now how many touches a game each guy would like to get, but I do know we would like to get Chris over 25 touches a game for sure,” said Liam Coen during spring practice.
Through eight quarters, that statement holds true. With this workload, Rodriguez has a shot to chase down a program record.
In 1995, Moe Williams rushed for 1,600 yards on 294 attempts averaging 5.44 yards per rush and scoring 17 rushing touchdowns to go along with 19 receptions for 153 yards. That big season set a program record that still stands 26 years later.
Williams would parlay that productive season into being a third-round draft pick by the Minnesota Vikings. The tailback would go on to play 10 seasons in the NFL. Rodriguez is looking to do the same. The pace he is setting could be historic.
After a pair of 100-plus yard performances to start the season to go along with nine rushes of 10-plus yards, Rodriguez is second nationally in rushing yards (332) with a success rate of 52.17 percent to go along with robust yards per rush average (7.22). When stretching these numbers out to 13 games, the final stat line could be ridiculous.
Chris Rodriguez Jr.’s pace: 299 carries, 2,158 rushing yards, 19 touchdowns
Well, that’s certainly an All-American season and would crush the previous record set by Williams. The tailback has a long year ahead of him with some pretty good defenses, but Kentucky’s offensive line figures to have an advantage of most fronts on the schedule. Add that in with some good play-calling, and Rodriguez appears to have a shot at making a legitimate run at a historic year.
Jonathan Taylor was the last tailback to reach the 2,100 yards threshold back in 2018. Who was his position coach? Kentucky’s new running backs coach John Settle. Some things seem to be adding up for Rodriguez.
There is a lot of football to be played, and Rodriguez must fix his ball security issues, but it’s clear that the tailback is set to be the clear workhorse for this Kentucky offense. Add that in with his efficiency and explosiveness, and Rodriguez will have a great shot at potentially chasing 2,000 yards if everything goes right this season.
Kentucky’s offense requires the running attack to open up passing lanes. Coen wants to have a marriage of run and pass. The Wildcats appear to have one of the top tailbacks in college football to help accomplish that goal.
Rodriguez is a star who is off to a hot start. The tailback seems to be well on his way to having an all-time season.