Rocky Topics: Will Tennessee survive the month of October?
Tennessee is primed for a breakout season in 2015. However, they might encounter a bump in the road somewhere in October.
This week on Rocky Topics, Sam Forman and Cody McClure discuss which game on the Vols’ 2015 football schedule has the makings of a trap game.
Forman: There is really one game on the 2015 schedule that Tennessee fans should be scared of, and that is the Oct. 31 meeting between the Vols and Kentucky in Lexington. The Wildcats have been a team on the rise since Mark Stoops took over the program two years ago. Despite Tennessee winning 29 of the last 30 meetings, it always seems that the Vols play bad enough to let Kentucky hang around. Although, to give the Cats their due, they have played well enough to win in the last 30 years. To top it all off, the Vols do not always play well in Lexington. This is not your grandfather’s Kentucky.
McClure: This one is easy for me. It’s the Arkansas Razorbacks. The Hogs will be loaded with talent on the offensive side of the ball. They return their veteran quarterback, Brandon Allen, two stud running backs ,Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins, and all but one starter on the offensive line. Their power running game will be a nightmare for Tennessee’s young defensive line early in the year. To make matters worse, the game is sandwiched in between two pivotal SEC East games against rivals Florida and Georgia. If the Hogs establish the pace in the game, Tennessee could be in trouble.
Forman: While Arkansas does bring back a strong offense and two great running backs, the Vols get the Hogs at home in Neyland. Now I am not saying Lexington is the hardest place to play, but it has become a bigger environment, literally and figuratively. Tennessee has struggled there historically, even when the stadium was smaller. It will never be ‘The Swamp,’ but if Kentucky gets off to a great start like last year, Commonwealth Stadium will be a strong home field advantage. You mentioned that Arkansas falls between a road game at Florida and a massive home game against Georgia. However, the Kentucky game falls in between a road trip to Alabama and a home game against the ‘head ball coach’ and South Carolina. The Crimson Tide and Gamecocks will be two of the Vols’ hardest games in 2015.
McClure: Lexington is a fairly reasonable place to play in terms of noise level. Sure, it is getting better, and Stoops has them trending upward, but is anyone really afraid of going to Kentucky? Next to Vanderbilt, it is the least intimidating place to play in the SEC. Let’s be honest. Kentucky will always have a ceiling, and on a good year, that ceiling comes in the form of the Music City Bowl. Derek Dooley is not in charge in Knoxville anymore, hence last year’s 50-16 beat down. Tennessee will manhandle the Wildcats again. But a game against a team that shut out LSU and Ole Miss to end the 2014 season? That’s a hefty challenge, and it comes early. Oct. 3 could be an eye-opener for Vol fans.
Edited by Maggie Jones