Tennessee plays Kentucky on Saturday in what should be another step for the Vols as they try to, at least, win the SEC East and perhaps much, much more.
We’ll get to the “much, much more” in just a bit. Let’s first take a look at one game at a time, just like coaches and players do – or say they plan to do.
Here are five reasons why the Vols will beat Kentucky and one reason they won’t:
WILL: Kentucky quarterback Will Levis has been hammered
When, I say hammered, I don’t mean that he’s been drinking. However, who could blame him if he has been. Levis, who is projected by many to be a top pick in the NFL Draft has suffered a foot and shoulder injury this season and it’s still October. The good news is that Levis’ shoulder injury is to his non-throwing arm. The bad news is…
WILL: Kentucky can’t protect Levis
The Wildcats don’t have a slightly below average offensive line. They have a horrible offensive line. Kentucky is last in the SEC, giving up 3.7 sacks per game. The Cats are also last in the SEC in average yards per carry at 3.1. Yuck. That’s not good for a team that already has a battered quarterback, which leads to…
WILL: The Vols can rush the passer
Tennessee is tied for fourth in the SEC with 2.43 sacks per game. Keep in mind that those sacks have come against mobile quarterbacks, for the most part, this season. Now, the Vols get to use their multiple blitz package against a quarterback who is known for standing in the pocket.
WILL: Team Chemistry
Tennessee could certainly lose to Kentucky. There’s that old “Any Given Saturday” rule and, I suppose, the Vols could overlook the Cats with the Georgia game on the table next week. Call it a trap game if you’d like, but this is a good enough Kentucky team to get the Vols’ attention and I’ve seen too much positive mojo about this team to think they’ll show up flat.
WILL: Neyland Noise
Neyland Stadium has always been a tough place to play. Now, it has become one of the toughest places to play in the nation because of how rabid UT fans have become over the Vols’ exciting, up-tempo offense. Now, there’s no “Third Down for What” anymore. Still, UT has managed to overcome.
WON’T: Defense, defense, defense and some offense
The Vols struggled at times against a formidable defense when they played Pittsburgh earlier this season. Pitt also ran the ball effectively enough to limit the opportunities that Tennessee had on offense. Kentucky ranks second in total defense with 295 yards allowed per game. If the Cats can keep the Vols under 300 yards of total offense, then they have a chance. That could be tough. The Vols are tops in the SEC in total offense with 571 yards per game.