Kentucky football: C-Rod unknown return date means runningback by committee

Kentucky Wildcats running back Kavosiey Smoke (Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports)
Kentucky Wildcats running back Kavosiey Smoke (Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports) /
1 of 4

We are less than two weeks until Kentucky football kicks off the season by hosting Miami (Ohio) and there are the standard holes still to plug in any season the biggest one showed in a mystery is that at running back and when might we see Chris Rodriguez.

We all knew there would be some type of game suspension but just how many head coach Mark Stoops has never spoken publicly about?

Kentucky wrapped up its final fall scrimage on Saturday and Rodriguez is in uniform and practicing but the rumor started to swirl on Friday thanks to a tweet from Matt Jones saying it could last 3 to 4 games.

Rumors and purely guessing on the airways and social media suggest his DUI arrest will warrant a single game but another undisclosed issue will warrant a separate suspension. Everyone has been very tight-lipped as to what this is, but it seems like it could be more of a University issue and not solely a football one.

Rodriguez was arrested on May 8 by UK police just after 3 a.m. and charged with driving under the influence and careless driving. He later pled guilty to operating a motor vehicle under the influence, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Taking the plea meant Rodriguez had to pay a $200 fine plus more than $700 in court costs and have his driver’s license suspended for four to six months in Kentucky.

Despite being asked over and over by the media, Stoops won’t comment merely saying he won’t address it until next week, and reiterated that on Saturday in his post-scrimage media briefing and if any of the backups had separated themselves.

"“Its going to be by committee. We have a lot of confidence in those guys they each have their strengths and weaknesses and are very good players so we will kind of iron that out.”"

We all know what Rodriguez means to the team and what he can do with the ball in his hands. but with Kentucky starting the season ranked No. 21 in the Coaches Poll and No. 20 in the preseason Associated Press Poll and high hopes for a magical season it appears the Big Blue will need to run the ball by the committee if the length of the suspension holds.

That committee will be made up of senior transfer Ramon Jefferson, senior Kavosiey Smoke, junior JuThan McClain, redshirt freshman La’Vell Wright, and junior Mike Drennen II.

Yes, that group of five doesn’t have a ton of carries or yards wearing a Kentucky jersey.

However, in their favor is a September of games against teams who will provide an opportunity of seeing just what the quintet can do while the Rodriguez suspension plays out except for one. That is a trip to the Swamp in week two to face Florida in a try statement game for the Wildcats.

On September 3 Miami comes to Kroger Field, week three has Youngstown State followed by  Northern Illinois in Lexington. Game five is October 1 at Ole Miss.

Stoops continued when asked to compare the backs to Rodriguez.

"“I think Ramon had some really tough runs today and I thought he showed what he is capable of today and was very physical and did some really good things. Then you have JuThan who is so good out of the backfield which is important to this offense and of course you got Kovosiey in there.  We got a deep room, I don’t think it fair to compare one to the other. We have different styles where we have guys that are physical and some that are a little more elusive in the open field so I don’t know if I am ready to compare any of them to Chris.”"

The committee backfield all brings something different with none really proving they can be the sole feature back and it’s doubtful any would get more than 20 carries a game unlike you can count on Rodriguez to produce.

Let’s take a look at the running back committee.