Before we all knew that Chris Rodriguez would have an extended absence, everyone assumed that he would break Benny Snell's all-time rushing record. Snell ran for 3,873 yards in his four seasons at Kentucky, passing Sonny Collins and Moe Williams for first place on the list. Now, Chris Rodriguez is climbing that same list, with those three former Wildcats in his sights. His road to get there has a few more challenges than Benny's path did.
This year's edition of the Big Blue Wall is not the same caliber as the offensive line that Benny Snell ram behind. Snell had future NFL linemen paving the way for him. This year's linemen do not appear to have the same prospects, but time will tell. Another problem for Rodriguez is the fact that Coach Scangarello's offense has made it tougher for the offensive line to maintain consistency. This has led to fewer and smaller holes for Rodriguez to run through. However, Rodriguez still has a chance to get to the top spot on the list.
The all-time rushing list looks like this:
Benny Snell 3,873
Sonny Collins 3,835
Moe Williams 3,333
Chris Rodriguez 3,311
Rodriguez needs just 22 yards to catch Moe Williams. This will happen in the first quarter against Vanderbilt this Saturday. He needs 524 yards to catch up to Sonny Collins and 562 yards to reach Benny Snell. To get to the top, he would need to average 140.5 yards per game. A running back like Rodriguez can go for 150 yards on any given day, but one future opponent stands in the way of that happening: Georgia.
The Bulldogs are allowing opposing running backs a minuscule 28 yards per game. Last season, Rodriguez only gained seven yards on seven carries. This year's Georgia defense is a different style, but potent nonetheless. Rodriguez would have to quadruple what Georgia is allowing to get to around 100 yards. If he can do this, the record is within reach.
A 100 yard game against Georgia, plus a big game against Vanderbilt, sets him up for an easier path to the record. Vanderbilt is allowing 185.5 yards per game rushing. It is not out of the realm of possibility for Rodriguez to go for 200 plus yards against Vanderbilt. That would give him approximately 300 yards, leaving him needing to gain around 260 yards against Louisville and Kentucky's bowl opponent. That is roughly 130 yards per game and Louisville is allowing 133.3 yards per game rushing.
The final variable would be Kentucky's bowl game opponent. The latest bowl projections have the Wildcats finishing at 8-4 and playing a Big Ten school in the ReliaQuest Bowl (formerly the Outback Bowl). Likely opponents include Penn State or Illinois. For Rodriguez to break the record, the former would be more desirable, as the latter is a better rushing defense than the Georgia Bulldogs.
While it isn't out of his reach, Rodriguez's quest to be the all-time leading rusher is going to require a Herculean effort, coupled with some luck and an off day from Georgia. Hiwever, if anyone can do it, it's Chris Rodriguez Jr.