Knoxville, Tenn. (WVLT)— What a difference a week makes for both Tennessee and Kentucky.
A disastrous week for the Wildcat athletics program began with a Kentucky loss to Georgia in football, a devastating loss to Duke in basketball, and it culminated Saturday with a convincing defeat at the hands of border rival Tennessee! The 11th ranked Cats had high hopes of snapping their 16 game losing streak at Neyland Stadium, but still smarting from that loss to the Bulldogs, the boys in Blue would be no match for their counterparts in Orange, falling to Tennessee 24-7.
Yes, the same Tennessee team which could muster only 20 yards rushing against Charlotte, would run for 215 against a Kentucky defense which had only given up 20 or more points once this season and that was just one week ago in the aforementioned loss to Georgia.
Even more impressive was the job done by the Tennessee defense. After holding Charlotte to 3 points, the Vol D kept Kentucky scoreless for two quarters, allowing just 7 points the entire game.
The offense was not without it’s issues sustaining tackles for loss in three of its first four series and would turn the ball over twice during the game.
However, just as in the Auburn game, the Tennessee offense would make the most of its opportunities when given the chance converting 6 big splash plays of 29 yards or more. The last being, a 58 yard run by Jordan Murphy, which would set up Tennessee’s third and final TD of the game.
A tip of the cap to this coaching staff and it’s undermanned team for continuing to work through adversity and that includes working at not beating itself, something which could have easily happened in the second half against the Wildcats.
But this group on this day wouldn’t allow it. One thing is for sure, these Vols may lose, but it won’t be without a fight or as the credo reads, giving your all for Tennessee!
With great team wins come some terrific individual performances. The UT offense got a boost by the return of RB-Ty Chandler who rushed for 81 yards. A steadily improving Vol defense was fortified by the return of Micah Abernathy. And just as in the Georgia game, defensive end Darrell Taylor was a force sacking Wildcat quarterback Terry Wilson four times. The Vols would neutralize Wilson and star running back Bennett Snell Jr. throughout most of the game. And what about quarterback Jarrett Guarantano, who has now passed Casey Clausen on the UT list for consecutive passes without an interception.
Kudos to Shy Tuttle as well coming up with yet another blocked kick for this Tennessee team, a team which, at 5-5, is just one win away from being Bowl eligible in Jeremy Pruitt’s first season. How fitting would it be if the Vols were to secure that 6th win with a victory against former UT head coach Derek Dooley, now the offensive coordinator for the Missouri Tigers, who visit Neyland next Saturday in a game you’ll see on CBS and WVLT at 3:30pm.