The trip to rocky top again wasn’t pretty for Kentucky.
Ranked No. 11 heading into Knoxville, Kentucky was finally favored to win an SEC clash and looked poise to snap a losing streak at Neyland Stadium that has ran over the course of three decades.
Instead chaos ensued as Kentucky was torched in a 24-7 defeat by the now 5-5 Vols.
It was clear that Kentucky wasn’t prepared for this game in all three phases. Here’s a few moments that showed how Tennessee was able to shock the Cats.
Defense Was Ill Prepared
Just two short weeks ago Kentucky’s defense was tied for first in the entire nation in points allowed per game. Facing a Vols offense that came into Week 11 ranked 121st in total offense and the week before only gaining 20 yards on the ground against Charlotte, it seemed Kentucky would have great success.
That wasn’t at all the case.
Tennessee ran wild, rushing for 215 yards and putting up 412 yards of total offense. One play specifically proved Kentucky had no idea what to expect from the Vols
Needing a goal-line stop with Tennessee at the two-yard line with the score already 17-0 Kentucky was convinced the Vols were going to run a sweep, according to Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano.
Gaurantano said this when he realized he had Kentucky completely fooled:
“I was pretty excited listening to the defense talk about what they thought was coming,”
The result of the play: A fake handoff and touchdown pass in the back of the end zone to a wide open Dominick Wood-Anderson, who said Kentucky had “no clue” what was coming.
Great play call here by @Vol_Football. Watch JG & the O-Line sell this fake toss to setup @TheRealYungDom with wide open catch. All shifting right #Vols pic.twitter.com/MI9RUbyoN3— Trey Wallace (@TreyWallace_) November 11, 2018
Clearly, defensive coordinator Matt House did not have his defense ready to stop plays in the red zone.
Terry Wilson had trouble with his reads
It’s hard to put too much blame on Terry Wilson. The Kentucky offensive line was bad, and Wilson still went 21/34 passing with 172 yards and a touchdown. He was sacked five times, including four by Darrell Taylor, who had just three sacks all season going into the game.
When breaking down film specifically on one of the Taylor sacks, Wilson had a wide-open Tavin Richardson with enough time to deliver him the ball. Instead, Wilson held onto the ball and took a sack.
Tennessee was able to bring pressure from all ends knowing Wilson wouldn’t get the ball out, and if it somehow did it wouldn’t come close to hitting a receiver.
Terry Wilson has got to be more decisive. The reads don’t get any easier than this. pic.twitter.com/keeF2Ob83P— Dave Lackford (@RivalsDave) November 10, 2018
Field Goal woes continued
It’s hard to expect a true freshman, let alone any college kicker to hit a 50 plus yarder, so it’s hard to fault Chance Poore for missing a 51-yard attempt early on in the game. However, Tennessee must’ve known blocking kicks would be a possibility with a struggling Kentucky kicking game.
Down 17, Kentucky still had hope early on in the fourth quarter. With the defense finally, in a rhythm Poore came into kick a 30 yarder that would’ve put Kentucky within two scores. However, Poore’s kick was horribly low, and Tennessee was able to get their hands on it and block it down ending any possible comeback hopes for Kentucky.
Kentucky has to find a way to hit their field goals whether it’s Poore, Miles Butler or somebody else.
Despite many fans assuming Kentucky will go 9-3, the Cats still have to play two teams that can put up points in Middle Tennessee and Louisville.
They should win both of these games, but don’t call them a slam dunk unless Kentucky can fix these three problems Tennessee was able to exploit.