While at Hurst L.D. Bell, Kenneth Farrow was a true power running back, bowling over defenders and leading a strong Blue Raiders offense.
Now a redshirt sophomore at Houston, Farrow has learned how to use his mind as well as strength. As a result, Farrow is poised for a breakout performance.
“In high school, they just kind of hand you the ball, and you go make plays,” Farrow said. “In college, you have to do more film study, and the more you do during the week, the more it pays off on the weekend. I’ve been a better student of the game, learning a lot more.”
Farrow’s biggest advice for high school players who will make the transition to the college game is don’t be afraid to sit out a year.
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“You can get in, learn the system, and see what it takes every day at this level,” he said. “You have to be focused every day. Having a year to learn all of that without having to play every weekend helps tremendously. You soak it all in. I would redshirt every time. Everybody wants to play right away. I looked at it like that in the beginning. But it’s a learning process. It brings nothing but benefits in the long run.”
Farrow started the season with 175 yards on 29 carries in his first two games, but he suffered an ankle injury at the end of Houston’s second game. He missed the next two games, wins against Rice and UTSA. With an off week after each game, he was off the field for a month.
“It was definitely disappointing to have an early setback, but I was able to sit back and learn some things, some different aspects of the game,” Farrow said. “I wasn’t playing, so I was in there watching a lot more film than usual. It taught me a lot more about preparing. I was waking up early and getting in some rehab, and while I was doing that, I was going in to watch film. That’s something I carried over, even after my ankle was back to 100 percent. I still start my day earlier and watch more in the film room.”
In his first game back, a win against Memphis, Farrow picked up his first two touchdowns of the season. He also played well in a tough road win against Rutgers, rushing for 74 yards and a touchdown on six carries.
“We are an up-tempo team,” said Farrow, who is second on the team this season with 399 rushing yards. “Being able to go fast catches the defense off guard. The defense has to give you something if you spread them out over the field. It’s about taking advantage of whatever they are giving up. You have to make the right reads at the last minute.”
Last week, Houston lost on the road against No. 17 UCF. This week, Farrow and the Cougars have another tough road test at No. 20 Louisville.
“When you lose, that just shows you have room for improvement,” Farrow said. “We can go out there and do more. We saw the mistakes we made on film, and now we can go out and correct those things. I expect us to have a good game and play well.
“I love playing the best teams on our schedule. That’s when the best players step up and play their best football. It’s a chance to play in front of a rocking stadium. The fact they are ranked just gives me motivation to go out and play even better.”
Games of the week
No. 25 Georgia at No. 7 Auburn (2:30 p.m. Saturday, CBS): Auburn (9-1, 5-1 SEC) could gain much from a win against the Bulldogs (6-3, 4-2 SEC). The Tigers need to build all the momentum they can heading into their rivalry showdown at home against No. 1 Alabama on Nov. 30. If Auburn can upset the Crimson Tide, the Tigers would win the SEC West and shake up the BCS landscape. But first, Auburn has to get past a Georgia team that started the season with its own championship goals. But injuries and tough breaks have the Bulldogs hanging on in the rankings. Auburn has rushed for nearly 700 yards in its last two wins, at Arkansas and Tennessee, and will try to control the game on the ground.
Florida at No. 10 South Carolina (6 p.m. Saturday, ESPN2): The Gators (4-5, 3-4 SEC) are trying desperately to pull out of their tailspin. Florida has lost four straight — LSU, Missouri, Georgia and Vanderbilt. Florida’s loss last weekend to Vandy came in Gainesville, Fla. The Gators are in danger of missing out on bowl season, a far drop for a team that started the season ranked No. 10 in the Associated Press poll. Florida can still get to a bowl, but they will have to win two of their final three games (and No. 2 Florida State is lurking in the final week of the season). The Gators best bet is to knock off South Carolina (7-2, 5-2 SEC) and former Gator legend Steve Spurrier and then beat Georgia Southern next week.
Houston at No. 20 Louisville (6 p.m. Saturday, ESPNU): Another week, another road upset opportunity for Houston (7-2, 4-2 American). The Cougars have barely missed pulling off upsets on the road twice already this season. Houston lost 47-46 against BYU and 19-14 at No. 17 UCF last weekend. Louisville (8-1, 4-1 American) has quarterback sensation Teddy Bridgewater, but the Cardinals biggest asset has been defense. Louisville leads the nation with 10.6 points allowed a game. The Cardinals’ lone poor defensive outing — their only loss, 38-35 against UCF.
No. 4 Stanford at USC (7 p.m. Saturday, WFAA/8): After beating Oregon last week, Stanford is back atop the Pac-12 mountain. Stanford (8-1, 6-1 Pac-12) has a clear path to a BCS bowl, but USC (7-3, 4-2 Pac-12) has played much better since losing its coach, Lane Kiffin, earlier this season. The Trojans are 4-1 without Kiffin, and the loss came 14-10 at Notre Dame. Stanford has struggled a bit on the road as well with a loss at Utah and closer wins at Army and Oregon State.
21 Years since the Florida Gators have dropped below .500. With last weekends home loss to Vanderbilt, Florida fell to 4-5 overall, ending the streak that goes back to 1992. The Gators are also in danger of missing out on a bowl game for the first time since 1990, Steve Spurrier’s first season as Florida’s coach. This week, Florida will play a Spurrier-led South Carolina team.
66 Rushing attempts, for 274 yards, for Stanford in its win against Oregon last week, more than the Ducks total rushing yards (62 on 24 attempts). Stanford controlled the tempo from the start to upset Oregon.
“It is not a disgrace to lose to Vanderbilt.” — South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier on Florida’s recent struggles. Spurrier, who said too much has been made of the Gators losing to the Commodores last week, noted that Vanderbilt has also beaten Georgia. South Carolina beat Vanderbilt 35-25 and will play Florida Saturday.
“Playing like one of the top teams in the country right now.” — Ohio State coach Urban Meyer using a sentence fragment for his short opening statement when he met with reporters this week. Meyer’s 12-word opener may have been to remind the nation that the Buckeyes, like Alabama and Florida State, are still undefeated. Right now, Ohio State is outside of the BCS National Championship game, with Alabama and Florida State ahead in the rankings.