Tennessee Football: Volunteers favored vs. Kentucky

After Tennessee football lost its first game of the season against the Georgia Bulldogs last Saturday, the road to redemption begins this Saturday against Kentucky. Kickoff starts at noon ET in Knoxville, Tennessee at Neyland Stadium. The game marks the fourth game of the season for the Volunteers, and Tennessee is the favorite this weekend against the Wildcats. The Volunteers need this victory under their belt to regain their momentum, especially with the Alabama game coming in Week 5. Here is a look at why the Volunteers are the favorite this weekend.


The Kentucky offense heavily weighs on its ability to run the ball. Sophomore running back Christopher Rodriguez Jr. ran the ball for 184 yards this season, and his teammate Asim Rose ran for 170 yards. However, those two do not lead the team in rushing yards. The senior quarterback Terry Wilson does with 221 rushing yards this season. His ability to run poses a challenge for the Tennessee defense since it never really had to defend a true dual-threat quarterback. The defensive line has to step up and play as a whole this Saturday to stop the running game. Tennessee often has two guys on the line of scrimmage pulling the weight for the rest of the line.

Luckily for Tennessee, it has Henry To’o To’o as a leader. The sophomore linebacker has a total of 23 tackles this season and one interception. A large reason why the Volunteers allow an average of only 3.3 yards a carry is because of To’o To’o.

Now for stopping the passing game, Tennessee football shouldn’t have a problem. Tennessee’s passing defense is ranked fifth in the SEC. The defense has only allowed three passing touchdowns in its three games this season. Sophomore Bryce Thompson is key to stopping the game in the air. If Thompson can keep the ball from reaching Kentucky wide receiver Josh Ali, then the Volunteers will do just fine with passing coverage.


It seems to be the same story every week for Tennessee’s offense. It never plays a complete game through and through. Last week against Georgia, the offense had an atrocious second half. Jarrett Guarantano had a fumble and an interception. Both running backs Ty Chandler and Eric Gray had their worst game of the season last week, so it is safe to say that the Volunteers offense has to find redemption this weekend against the Wildcats.

Last week is in the past. What does the offense have to do Saturday to regain its mojo?

For starters, limit the turnovers and penalties. Guarantano had three turnovers last week, and the team had a collective 10 penalties. That cannot happen again. Tennessee is going up against a talented defense. Kentucky’s defense is ranked third in the SEC for points allowed and fourth for yards allowed.

The running game will be a challenge, but Chandler and Gray can handle it. Guarantano’s ability to move the chains in the air is the key to success. If Tennessee’s quarterback can have a great passing game, Tennessee will pull the win at home. Kentucky has a great defense, but the Volunteers’ offense will pull it together enough to scrape by this week.