February 27, 2024

Rocky Topics: Will the Vols be able to secure their first road win?

This week on Rocky Topics, sports writers Allie Norris and David Bradford debate whether the Vols can beat the Wildcats in Lexington.

Photo by Ben Moser

Photo by Ben Moser

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Co-written by David Bradford

This week on Rocky Topics, sports writers Allie Norris and David Bradford debate whether the Vols can beat the Wildcats in Lexington.

Norris: The Vols are looking to get their first road win this weekend against Kentucky after coming off a devastating loss to No. 8 Alabama. Kentucky’s offensive line is going to have a tough time protecting the quarterback against Tennessee’s front seven, Derek Barnett, Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Corey Vereen. The Vols had five sacks against Alabama and 10 tackles for loss. How will Kentucky be able to run the ball and protect their quarterback, Patrick Towles, when it has allowed 20 sacks so far this season?

Bradford: Well look, there is no denying that Tennessee has a much more talented roster than Kentucky. However, I would like to point out that Kentucky does have some advantages heading into this contest. First, the Wildcats are playing at home and Tennessee has yet to win a game on the road this season. Second, while the offensive line has not been great for Kentucky, I am not throwing in the towel on Towles. Behind that offensive line, he has scored 12 total touchdowns this season (eight passing, four rushing) and has completed 60 percent of his passes. Running back Stanley ‘Boom’ Williams is averaging 6.8 yards per carry this season. Lastly, the Vols rush defense has been less than stellar all season. Don’t be surprised if Kentucky tries to run all over the Vols.

Norris: While I appreciate the pun, Towles has thrown nine interceptions and has only eight touchdowns to show for those nine interceptions. The home field advantage and road records are deceiving in the fact that while Tennessee has lost two road games, those two road games were against two SEC teams who are still ranked. Kentucky has lost two road games and one at home. The Wildcats also almost lost in overtime to Eastern Kentucky, a team that plays in the Ohio Valley Conference. At least the Vols’ losses have come from top-tier SEC teams and highly-ranked Oklahoma. How is Kentucky going to stop the beast of a combo that is Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara?

Bradford: I will tell you how Kentucky will stop them: UT will not use them properly. Hurd has only had three 100-yard games this season and has failed to reach the century mark in the last three games. He has only one touchdown in the last three games. Plain and simple, the Vols have put too much faith in the arm of Dobbs and have not played to their strength consistently: running the football. If Tennessee sticks to the ground game, then it will be a long day for Kentucky, but Dobbs, despite only throwing two interceptions on the season, was lucky to not have three or four interceptions against Alabama. Hurd and Kamara are great, but Dobbs has been inconsistent this season and if the Wildcats can get pressure on Dobbs…meow.

Norris: Meow, really? While the Vols did not use Hurd against Alabama as much as usual that doesn’t mean he won’t be a much bigger factor this week. When it was crucial to keep Alabama and Derrick Henry from scoring, the Vols were able to stop him at the line. Tennessee should have an easier time stopping Williams, who has been slightly injured since the Missouri game. My question to you is, how are the Wildcats even going to get pressure on Dobbs? I bet the cat will get your tongue on this one.

Bradford: Nice pun, but the cat does not have my tongue. Kentucky is an evolving team. As in, while UT is on the upswing, so is Kentucky. It doesn’t have the talent to match UT, but Kentucky has played in some tough games this season and has learned how to win. I like their running game, I like their quarterback and I don’t trust Tennessee’s play calling or their play on the road. I say Kentucky wins in a low scoring contest, 20-13.

Norris: The Vols will be out for revenge after losing to Alabama in a close game. They won’t lose to Kentucky. The ‘Cats will have to battle with everything they’ve got to be able to beat the Vols. Tennessee wins 20-10 in a hard fought battle.

Featured image by Ben Moser

Edited by Cody McClure

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