By LARRY VAUGHT
Benny Snell normally just tries to ignore comments opponents make before playing Kentucky. He prefers to just show what’s on his mind by the way he plays.
He plans to do that again Saturday night, too, when Kentucky hosts No. 14 Mississippi State in a battle of unbeaten teams.
Snell ran for 175 yards when Kentucky ended its 31-year losing streak at Florida. He might need the same kind of special outing if the Cats are going to beat Mississippi State, which has 17 returning starters off the team that pummeled UK 45-7 last year and limited Snell to 18 yards on seven carries.
Mississippi State is No. 6 in scoring defense (8.7 points per game) nationally. Two Mississippi State defenders (Montez Sweat and Jeffery Simmons) lead the Southeastern Conference in tackles for loss with 5.5 apiece and the Bulldogs are allowing just 2.5 yards per rushing attempt. State has not allowed a rushing touchdown this season.
“I am looking forward to it now,” Snell said about Saturday night’s matchup. “I know Mississippi State is good. They have a good defensive line. Their linebackers swarm to the ball. This is a good opponent. We’re not going to change any plans. Defense has to get some stops and we’ve (offense) got to move the ball. Our o-line is going to be in battle. We’re going to step it up, just like Florida; it’s a big game and we’re going to go into it like it’s a big game.”
He insists he doesn’t remember that much about last year’s game — but I have a hard time believing he doesn’t remember the one team that slowed him down. Of course, then Snell revealed he remembered plenty about last year.
“I didn’t play that much. We were just rotating. They were swarming to the ball. We were getting a lot of turnovers. Throwing interceptions, fumbling, just beating ourselves,” Snell said. “This team this year, we don’t beat ourselves. Or if we know by a quarter or halftime we make adjustments and we will keep moving forward.”
Snell might well have provided some extra motivation for the Bulldogs with his comments after last week’s win over Murray State.
“I am going to run on any team. You could be an NFL team and my college team will (run on you). It don’t matter. You know what I am saying,” Snell said. “This offense don’t fear nobody. I am looking forward to it. I know they are good. But our offense is good, too. It’s going to be fun.”
It could be even more fun if Kentucky fans show up at Kroger Field the way Snell — and his teammates — hope they will. Games against Central Michigan and Murray State were not close to sellouts, but Snell knows that will change for Mississippi State.
“I expect it to be sold out. I expect everybody to come out for this one. It’s going to be a fight. The more fans the better, we need them,” Snell said. “It’s big to have the stadium filled with fans. I like it to be intimidating for other teams, especially when they come to our home. When they (fans) are cheering and we are getting first downs and the energy is up, that’s the key to get us going.”