Kentucky will be as deep at the running back position this coming season as the group has been under head coach Mark Stoops. A key member of that position is Kavosiey Smoke, who racked up 616 rushing yards (third on the team) on 101 attempts and six scores as a redshirt freshman last season.
Smoke has been known as a explosive runner since arriving at UK, as he averaged 6.1 yards per rushing attempt last season. With that said, the redshirt sophomore told the media after practice on Tuesday that he is working on being more patient in the backfield.
“I gotta figure out how to be patient,” he said. “The physical part — I’ve always been physical. I’ve got a little speed since I got lean, and I really did slow down and learn the playbook. And learn how to be read defenses, that’s the main part.”
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, the running back position is full of talented players this season for the Cats. As part of a 10-game SEC schedule, Smoke agreed it is important to have multiple guys at the position who can play valuable snaps.
“”It’s very important,” he said. “Just like you said, it’s ten SEC games — you have to work for everything you get. Every yard you have to work for.”
The Cats are just three weeks from the beginning of the shortened 2020 season, which they open with Auburn on Sept. 26. The Cats later also will take a trip to Tuscaloosa, AL, to take on the Crimson Tide later in the season. Being an Alabama native, Smoke is ready to return home and battle both squads.
“I’m ready, there’s no doubt,” he said. “There’s nothing else I’ll say, I’m just ready to play.”
Due to injuries across the board at the quarterback position last season, wideout Lynn Bowden Jr. played at the helm of the offense for the last half of the schedule. The Cats were a run-first offense with Bowden, and the third-round draft pick of the Raiders who was just recently traded to Miami taught some valuable running techniques to Smoke — mainly shiftiness.
“Lynn is one of the shiftiest person’s I’ve ever played with, he can rip off anybody,” he said. “That’s one thing I tried to take and get better at from him.”
As part of playing in an almost exclusively run-first offense, the team overall is working at re-developing a passing game with the quarterback position back to being healthy. Smoke mentioned some parts of the passing attack that he and the rest of the running backs have been trying to get better at this preseason:
“I just gotta get better at pass protection. Just get better at protecting our quarterback. I don’t wanna have another quarterback go down — that’s the hard part. And route running — all the running backs — we’re getting better at that.”
Even with the offense re-vamping its passing game, the coaching staff will more than likely still opt to run the ball a lot knowing the talented offensive line and running back core that they have. Kavosiey Smoke will be a key part of the offense all the way around, no matter the formation, and will probably get even more chances to break off explosive runs this coming season.