Last week was a rough one for the Kentucky Wildcats’ defense.
The Cats, who came into their SEC East winner-take-all game with Georgia tied for first in the nation in points per game, laid an egg.
For the first time all year, Kentucky’s defense gave up more than 20 points as the Dogs ran wild for 331 rushing yards and 34 points.
Defensive coordinator Matt House, who today was named a Broyles Award nominee for the nation’s best assistant coach, says his team has surely shown extra motivation this week.
“I think there’s a determination in there, and I fully expect us to play better.”
With the SEC East title now out of play, Kash Daniel admitted there was some let down after the loss, but he knows there’s still plenty to play for.
“After that, we kind of stepped back and said now that’s gone, what else do we have to play for?.” Daniel said on losing out on the SEC East title.
The team’s answer according to Daniel:
“We have a chance to have a 10-win season, which has only been done here twice in school history. We have a chance to win six SEC games, which has only been done once or twice in school history. What we lost was pretty significant, obviously, but there’s still so many things to pick up on and strive for that can turn this program around and make a lot of people proud for a lot of years to come.”
With still plenty to play for it’s time to turn the page to Tennessee. Despite being rated a woeful 121st in the nation in total offense, Kentucky sees a lot of potential in the Vols.
Coach House had this to say when talking about the Vols offense:
“They do a lot of stuff, a lot of different ways to create explosion plays. Number eight’s (Ty Chandler) a really good player. They’ve got really good skill at wideout. Number one (Marquez Callaway) and 15 (Jauan Jennings) really, really stand out, and the quarterback’s hanging in there and throwing the ball.”
The most dangerous position group for Tennessee seems to be at wide receiver. House noted Marquez Callaway and Jauan Jennings, though the Vols’ leading receiver in terms of yards in Josh Palmer. All three wideouts have over 300 yards with Palmer and Callaway both over 400.
Kentucky’s top corner, Derrick Baity, said this might be the best receiving core the Cats have seen all season.
“They’re physical,” Baity said “Probably the most physical receiving group we’re going to go against. I’ve seen their strong hands, Jauan Jennings really blocks a little extra down the field. They’re very physical.”
When the Cats took down Tennessee last season in Lexington, a huge key was getting to quarterback Jarrett Guarantano, who was sacked seven times.
On how to repeat that success against Guarantano and his offensive line, Josh Allen had this to say.
“The passing game’s really strong this week, so we’ve got to complement that with a lot of great rushes, and hopefully I’ll get back there, and if not, hopefully Boogie (Watson) can get back there.”
For Allen, he will have a chance to break Kentucky legend Oliver Barnett’s all-time program sack record with just 1.5 and sacks this weekend.
Allen opened up with a conversation he had with Barnett about possibly breaking his record:
“I was like I’m real thankful that you’ve got that record, but I’ve got to get it.” Allen said he told Barnett. “He’s so supportive of me and wanting to break it, and he said somebody’s gotta do it, and I said it might as well be me.”
For both Allen and Baity, it will be the last time they take the field in an SEC game.
Allen said that fact had just hit him:
“I actually just realized that,” Allen said when asked about if he’s thought about this being his last SEC game. “It’s a good way to end the last senior game, especially with a rival like this and a team that we haven’t won in their stadium in a long time, so I’m ready to make history.”
Baity said as a senior, he surely has thought about this moment.
“Just looking back, I’m gonna miss it,” Baity said
It will be the last SEC game for many of Kentucky’s defensive starters, and a critical one as the Cats look to stay on pace for just their third 10-win season in school history Saturday in Knoxville.