One fourth quarter drive against South Carolina provides a perfect summary of the 2016 Kentucky football roster. Let’s take a look:
Situation: Kentucky 7, South Carolina 7 | UK football, 1st and 10 near the 50-yard line.
Offensive Line LT Kyle Meadows/Landon Young, LG Logan Stenberg, Center Jon Toth, RG Bunchie Stallings, RT George Asafo-Adjei. Offensive line consisted of: 1 senior, 1 junior, 2 sophomores, 2 freshmen.
Backfield QB Stephen Johnson II, RB Benny Snell, TE’s CJ Conrad-Greg Hart. That’s 1 first year junior, 1 true freshman, 1 sophomore, and 1 junior.
Receivers Tavin Richardson, Garrett Johnson, Blake Bone: 1 freshman, 2 juniors.
Personnel by Class Senior: 1 Juniors: 5 Sophomores: 3 Freshmen: 4
1st-10, UK 49: Snell 12-yard run
-- UK operated out of a 2 TE set. Guard’s Bunchie Stallings and Logan Stenberg combo blocked with center Jon Toth to collapse the line-of-scrimmage. Snell patiently and violently exploded through the hole. Great vision by Snell and an encouraging, reserve OL performance began. Kentucky utilized a 2-TE set for many plays of this drive. Both CJ Conrad and Greg Hart excelled in that role.
1st-10 on SC 39: Snell rush for 6 yards.
-- Snell is a beast. Young and inexperienced OL gains confidence against a veteran and salty Carolina front 7.
2nd-4, SC 33: Snell rush for 3
-- RPO, proper Johnson read.
3rd-1, SC 30: Snell rush for 2
-- Freshman guard Logan Stenberg pulled to secure a block to spring fellow freshman Bennie Snell for the 1st down. Stenberg is nimble and nasty at 6’6, 330-pounds. That’s 2 freshmen if you’re keeping score at home.
1st-10, SC 28: Snell rush for 9
-- This time sophomore guard Bunchie Stallings pulled to block from a 2 TE set.
2nd-1, SC 19: Snell rush for 7
-- Snell dragged the pile. Offensive linemen dragged Snell. Momentum was obvious. The crowd and the Cats were playing to win the football game here.
1st-10, SC 12: Snell rush; loss of 4
-- South Carolina had the perfect defense called as its defensive line slanted from left-to-right, or right into the intended path of Bennie Snell. Sometimes the defense wins.
2nd-14: SC 16: Johnson rush for 7
-- Expecting another slant, Gran called a RPO opposite of probable DL post-snap movement. QB Johnson pulled and ran the football; gained 7 yards. Carolina was biting hard on the 1st RPO segment; the Snell run. Freshman Tavin Richardson showed persistence in down-field blocking. This is a rarely developed trait for a rookie.
3rd-7, SC 9: Johnson for 8
-- Stephen Johnson appeared to be executing a sprint out pass to the left or a QB sweep. Regardless, he changed courses and ran to the 1-inch line. Athletic and heady play by the new starter. Gran went with 4 WR’s to spread out the SC defense.
1st-Goal, SC 1: Snell walk in touchdown
-- WildSnell; South Carolina had no chance of defending this play. Snell walks in for 6. The players on the roster that wanted to be in Commonwealth Stadium celebrated. The BBN did so as well.
Youthful, momentous, run-game intentional, and a touch of pissedoffness (new word) are terms that could accurately describe Kentucky’s 4th quarter scoring drive. This series of plays was the difference in a win and a loss. I find it most interesting to analyze the “who” or personnel that was in the game for Mark Stoops during this critical juncture in the football game. When the UK head coach references youth, this drive perfectly fits that description.