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Kentucky running back to miss second straight game due to ‘NCAA matter’: report

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For the fourth time in 73 meetings, Florida and Kentucky will meet with both teams ranked in the AP Top 25.

Florida is coming off an impressive win over a top 10 team in Utah, while Kentucky heads into its first real test of the season.

Kentucky Wildcats running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. (24) runs with the ball during the Verb Citrus Bowl against the Iowa Hawkeyes on January 1, 2022 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida.
(David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Wildcats will have to turn around No. 12 Florida on the road without star running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. who will miss his second straight game while awaiting a decision on an “NCAA matter,” according to ESPN.

Kentucky expects to receive a response on Rodríguez next week, but will not have the The 3rd leading broker in the SEC of the 2021 season on Saturday.

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“There are layers to this that I’ve been told that I can’t comment on,” Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops said. “It’s not like I’m trying to hide things from you, but players have rights and things of that nature with this situation.”

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops punches wide receiver Tavin Richardson before Kentucky's 27-16 win at Florida in 2018.

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops punches wide receiver Tavin Richardson before Kentucky’s 27-16 win at Florida in 2018.
(Alex Slitz/Herald Leader/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Rodríguez Jr. is expected to miss at least three games, according to ESPN. Kentucky plays Youngstown State in Week 3.

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The Wildcats’ running game struggled in Week 1 against Miami (Ohio), rushing for just 50 yards on 26 carries. Stoops told reporters after the game that the offense was focused on the passing game during Kentucky’s 37-13 victory in Week 1.

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“We made a conscious effort to shoot the ball today,” Stoops said, according to Sports Illustrated. “I think you saw it even at the end. You know what I mean? I really wanted to work on things and get better.”

Kentucky Wildcats running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. on the sidelines during a game against the Tennessee Volunteers at Kroger Field in Lexington, Ky., on Nov. 6, 2021.

Kentucky Wildcats running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. on the sidelines during a game against the Tennessee Volunteers at Kroger Field in Lexington, Ky., on Nov. 6, 2021.
(Brian Simms/Lexington Herald-Leader/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Senior running back Ramon Jefferson tore his ACL in Week 1 and will miss the rest of the season, affecting Kentucky’s depth at the position.

“I’ve yet to be somewhere where I’ve gone a season without having a back injury,” Kentucky offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello said, according to the Louisville Courier Journal. “It’s just the nature of the position, the physicality of what we’re asking guys to do. You have to be ready for that. The next guy, and the good thing is that we built a deep room for this reason.”

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The Gators allowed 230 rushing yards against Utah in Week 1.

Associated Press contributed to this report

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