Kentucky Wildcats Football: An early look at the Tennessee game


Tennessee – November 26, 2011 – Lexington, KY

The Wildcats and the Volunteers have gone in different directions over the last decade. Tennessee has been through a couple of head coaches and has dropped from one of the top programs nationally, to a team that has struggled to become bowl eligible. Kentucky has gone from a conference doormat and a program that is lucky to win 4 games in a season, to going to five straight bowl games. All that considered, the Wildcats have still lost to Tennessee for a number of years that will not be mentioned. This season, the Volunteers will be one of the youngest teams in the SEC. The majority of their team looks to be made up of true freshmen, red shirt freshmen, and sophomores this year but that doesn’t mean that they’re inexperienced. Last season Tennessee played as many as eight true freshmen on offense at any given time and those players will go into the 2011 season with the type of game experience under their belts that few freshmen get. Kentucky will be in a similar situation to the Volunteers trying to replace offensive production. The Vols lost Gerald Jones, Denarius Moore, and Kentuckian Luke Stocker in addition to having their projected starting running back Bryce Brown leave the team prior to the start of last season. Kentucky will be trying to replace Derrick Locke, Randall Cobb, and Chris Matthews on offense and will be relying on younger players in the same way Tennessee will.

Why Kentucky will win…

Tennessee is not the Tennessee of the past and Kentucky is equally talented to the Volunteers. The Cats have solid players across the board and actually match up very well with the Vols. Kentucky will have a serious advantage running the football when the Cats are on offense. Larry Warford and Stuart Hines are two of the country’s best guards and should have few problems overpowering the Tennessee defensive line. The Vols also are basically starting over at linebacker and will have a more experienced defensive backfield, but one that still shouldn’t scare anyone. When Kentucky is on defense, The Cats will be more experienced in almost every matchup. The sophomore receiving duo of Da’Rick Rogers and Justin Hunter are big, talented guys, but they’ll be up against seniors Randall Burden and Anthony Mosley at corner with senior Winston guy floating around underneath and junior Martavius Neloms covering deep. Tyler Bray had a great freshman season, but he’s in for a sophomore slump. He caught a lot of teams by surprise last season with his arm and moxie but he Tennessee will have to take the training wheels off of him this fall and open the playbook up. If the Cats can take advantage of a rowdy home crowd and get past the mental block they’ve put on themselves, the streak will end in 2011 with a big victory in Lexington.

Kentucky will lose if…

The Cats cannot get past the streak. For the last few years, Kentucky has been the better team on the field. Whether it was Woodson coming up short, or a dropped pass in the end zone, or Derrick Locke fumbling on the goal line, The Cats have always found a way to come up short. It’s actually to the point where you start to wonder if there’s a psychological block there for the coaches too. The Volunteers will be a young team, but will be one of the best young teams in the country. Their offensive line will have an extra year of experience under their incredibly large belts after multiple freshmen saw game action last year and their skill players will have benefited from playing as true freshmen as well. On defense, the front seven will be returning only two players, but will be filling in the holes with one four-star recruit after another. The Volunteer defensive backfield will be big enough and experienced enough to cause problems for Wildcat’s green receivers. Kentucky’s Achilles heel this season looks like it will be the defensive line and Tennessee may be the team to take advantage of that. The Volunteers have Tauren Poole and Rajion Neal running the ball and both guys are the type of back that gave the Wildcats problems last year. If Kentucky cannot control the tempo with their ground game and avoid turnovers, Tennessee will leave Lexington with a victory.

What I think happens…

Kentucky comes out slow and lets Tennessee put up an easy touchdown and a field goal early. The Cats buckle down and put together several drives that wear down the Volunteer defense and put points on the board. Newton and Bray throw two interceptions apiece and turnovers keep either team from pulling away from the other. The game comes down to a 30-yard field goal for a Kentucky win and Tennessee blocks it. I’ve picked the Cats to win for five straight years and I’m going to have to see it happen before I’m picking them again.

Final Score: UK 27 – UT 29

Keep following www. for the best in Kentucky basketball and football news, rumors, and opinions. By Kentucky fans for Kentucky fans