Tennessee will travel north of the border to Kroger field for an SEC rivalry, in hopes to continue its five-game winning streak against the Wildcats. Kickoff will be televised on the SEC Network at 7:30 p.m.
Teams are coming off huge SEC losses in which they both lost 45-7. Kentucky (5-2, 2-2 SEC) lost to Mississippi State, and Tennessee (3-4, 0-4 SEC) lost to Alabama last Saturday.
The Vols have had a hard season, but Butch Jones and his team are still confident in themselves. “Tennessee it not okay with being 3-4, and definitely, Butch Jones is not okay with being 3-4,” Jones said in Monday’s press conference. “We have to keep working, and work our way through this, and work our way out of this.”
Scoring has been a struggle this season for Tennessee’s offense, but Jones is well-aware of the necessity of scoring in the SEC. “It all starts with running the football. When you have the ability to run the football, display the ability to run the football, it opens everything up,” Jones said. “It opens passing lanes, it opens up play action passing, it even opens up drop-back passing as well, so it all goes hand in hand, and we need to run the football.”
Tennessee needs to improve up front, but they’ll have to do so without offensive lineman Jack Jones. The Murfreesboro native will not return to the field due to recurring neck and shoulder injuries. “After meeting with doctors, everyone agreed that it may be in his best interest and that he should no longer play football,” Jones said. “We hurt for Jack. We hurt for his great family. We will be here for support and he will continue to be a member of this team moving forward.”
After Quinten Dormady started the first five games of the season, Jarrett Guarantano took over the starting job against South Carolina. Guarantano will continue as the starting quarterback for Tennessee heading into the Kentucky game. “One thing you can’t question is his toughness,” Jones said. ““He’s learning, and he’s learning quickly. Again I see a young man who is confident and believes in his team.”
Despite the Vols loss to Alabama, Jones was still impressed with Guarantano’s performance. “He stood firm in the pocket, he didn’t flinch, he delivered some throws, he took some shots, and he kept battling.”
Mark Stoops, the head football coach for Kentucky, is still aware of Tennessee’s potential. “I expect Tennessee to come in and play exceptionally hard just like they did this past week against the exceptional Alabama team,” Stoops said. “We expect them to come in with great pride and play very well just like we did a year ago.”
Edited by Ben McKee
Feature image courtesy of UT Sports