VAUGHT: UK running backs could be special

Nothing can make an offensive lineman look better than a running back who can pick the right hole and also occasionally break a tackle to gain extra yardage. That's why offensive linemen are so protective of running backs who make their jobs easier.

Kentucky center Matt McCutchan isn't worried about the rash of preseason injuries to UK's running backs. Tony Dixon is out for the season because of a broken leg, but injuries to Rafael Little, Arliss Beach and Draak Davis are not ones that should bother them when the Cats open the season Sept. 4 against Louisville.

"I like all our running backs. Some are tweaked up a little bit right now and we are going to really miss Tony Dixon, but I like the backs we have," McCutchan said. "I really like the way Arliss has been running. Draak is moving so well. He is hitting the hole harder than I have ever seen him. He looks like he could be real special this year."

Could it be that Beach and Davis both want to show naysayers who have questioned their ability that they can be productive Southeastern Conference backs.

"I don't know about that, but it does seem like they are both a little quicker in their steps. I don't know what they did, but they are both looking really good," the UK center said. "And you never worry about Rafael. He is definitely a game breaker. He can take it to the house (end zone) any time he touches the ball.

"We have plenty of time for those guys to get healthy. We haven't even really started to gear up for Louisville yet. There's no question we will have a full house back there and ready to go by Sept. 4."

What about senior Alexis Bwenge, who could play tailback and/or fullback?

"He's a guy who will get you three or four yards every time. He can make a big play, too. He is a big bruiser that might not beat you with moves, but he just might run over you," McCutchan said.

Then there is freshman Alfonso Smith, a player blessed with speed. "He is young and learning the speed of the game and how hard people hit in the SEC just like Rafael and Tony learned last year," McCutchan said. "But you can tell he has that speed you like. He's going to be an excellent running back. He could play this year. He will find the hole and hopefully we will make him some holes so he can explode through there and not have to dance around."

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