LEMOND: Arliss Beach tough and looking better

Toughness. Arliss Beach has got it. Despite being hurt nearly all of last season, Beach played in every game for the Cats. Now he's healthy and ready to "tackle" his senior season at Kentucky.

"It's my last season," Beach said. "It means everything. All the other seasons meant a lot too, but this is my last one. I gotta make it the best."

The Cats could have used a healthy Arliss Beach last year. UK was last in the Southeastern Conference in rushing. Some individual players in the SEC had more rushing yards than the entire Kentucky team.

"I know I've been plagued by injuries, but I do my best every time I go out on the field," he said. "I really don't have much to prove for myself, just go out here and try my best."

It is probably no coincidence that his two best games last season came in both of Kentucky wins. He rushed for 44 yards in UK's win over Indiana, and he had a season high 69 rushing yards in the win against Vanderbilt. His shoulder and his ankle are both better, and he looks better than ever.

"I put on a little weight, lost a little fat and put on a little body mass, so that's always good," he said.

Beach also likes the "new look" attitude of the Cats saying, "We have a lot of senior leaders, like Tommy Cook. He's a senior leader. He's really pushed us to just shut up and just do it. Don't worry about it, don't cry, don't complain or nothing, just go out there and do it. Everybody has to do it, so do we."

He added, "I feel like we're all more committed to the team. We got rid of a lot of the bad seeds on the team, so I think we'll be OK."

Two seasons ago, Beach was UK's leading rusher with 366 yards and 8 touchdowns. He rushed for over 100 yards against Vanderbilt and scored 3 touchdowns against Florida. This year, he's expected to compete with Tony Dixon, Rafael Little, and Draak Davis for playing time in the UK backfield. He embraces that luxury.

"We've got four threats in the backfield now," he said. "From the spring, we look good. The running game looks good. We also have Terrell Bankhead who looked good in the spring, so that's another threat we have, and now we've got some new offensive linemen, so we'll see."

But it's going to take more than just an improved running game for the Cats to have more success on offense. Beach believes it all starts with new offensive coordinator Joker Phillips saying, "With Joker running the offense, it's easier for guys to learn it. That was a big thing last year with guys understanding what was going on with the scheme. Doing little things this summer, watching film and stuff, trying to help us learn the plays and what everybody is doing, that's what's going to make us better."

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