Another SEC East matchup is coming to Kroger Field this Saturday as the Kentucky Wildcats host the Tennessee Volunteers.
The Wildcats are currently 4-4, but they are not your average 4-4 team. Currently at quarterback for Kentucky is wide receiver Lynn Bowden Jr. He takes over after the Wildcats lost promising quarterback Terry Wilson in the beginning of the season. Then, backup quarterback Sawyer Smith has missed a number of games due to injuries. Star linebacker Kash Daniel is also expected to sit out this week after missing two games. This leaves fans thinking if the Wildcats will be able to reach bowl eligibility.
Facing all these injuries, head coach Mark Stoops has been able put together a great squad every Saturday. Despite being limited, Bowden has been doing a great job at quarterback. Against Arkansas, he completed 7/11 with 78 yards and a touchdown. Bowden strong suit is on the ground. Since taking over at quarterback, Bowden has averaged over eight yards per carry on 62 attempts (500 yards) and four rushing touchdowns. The offensive line has stepped up for the Wildcats giving Bowden enough time to throw and also opening spaces for the run game. Asim Rose has been finding some momentum averaging over 60 yards in the last three games and 4.5 yards per game.
Looking at the other side, the Wildcat defense is doing a solid job. Calvin Taylor Jr. is arguably the best player on defense. He leads the team with five sacks and is tied for the team lead with six TFLs and two forced fumbles. The best part is that Kentucky can use him in a variety of ways, so it will be integral that Tennessee keys in on him often.
In the past 41 seasons, the Vols have only lost to the Wildcats four times. After a 1-4 start with losses to Georgia State and BYU, the Vols have won three of their past four games, two of which were against SEC teams. However, they’re 0-2 in road games this season. The most exciting thing about the Vols is their defense. The Vols lead the SEC and are tied for third-best in the nation in interceptions with 13. Tennessee had nine interceptions all of last season, which ranked eighth in the SEC.
It is still not certain who is starting for Tennessee at quarterback, but it is among freshman Brian Maurer (two touchdown passes, five interceptions), redshirt freshman J.T. Shrout (one touchdown, zero interceptions) and redshirt junior Jarrett Guarantano (11 touchdowns, five interceptions). Tennessee junior Ty Chandler who has rushed for 569 yards rushing, and three touchdowns has been strong against Kentucky. Two seasons ago, in UK’s 29-26 win over UT, Chandler ran for 120 yards and two touchdowns. Especially without Cash Daniel, Chandler can see a lot of running room if he gets past the defensive line. The strength in this Vols offense is in its wide receivers. Jauan Jennings has been electric with 47 catches, 722 yards and seven touchdowns. Marquez Callaway is also an elite receiver who if given room can make huge play downfield. This matchup will be a close one but if Tennessee can stop Kentucky’s ground game they can come out on top.
Q: Who is the SEC leader in yards per catch?
— Tennessee Football (@Vol_Football) November 6, 2019
Tennessee and Kentucky will kick off this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. EST on SEC Network