After an explosive first quarter from the Vols, it felt as if the rope was slipping out of the hands of this UK team. But this offense, yes the offense, said not so fast as they went punch for punch with UT. And hey what about Will Levis giving us his best Stephen Johnson impression?
Whether it be through the run-game with Chris Rodriguez or Kavosiey Smoke, or Levis spreading the ball around the field to Wan’Dale Robinson or Josh Ali, without the offense finally clicking, this game could have gotten out of hand quick.
Defensively, Tennessee is a hectic matchup for any team. The speed this offense plays with is unmatched, and even though the missed tackles and busted coverages happened there is a reason that Josh Heupel’s offense is one of the best scoring teams in the early stages of the game.
But the defense couldn't adjust, and they allowed a huge 10-point swing to end the first half as the Cats trailed 24-21.
Out of the break, Liam Coen continued to dial up an impressive drive as the Kentucky offense marched 75 yards down the field and didn't miss a beat.
That same narrative continued throughout the remainder of the game, but the defense continued to struggle. Heupel had Brad White’s unit on their heels all game, and ultimately that is what ended up costing the Cats this game.
For this defense, something has to change. Simple as that. Not sure what you have to do, but they allowed Hendon Hooker to look like a Day 1 draft pick as they did the same thing with Will Rogers last week. If you want to take the next step as a program, there can’t be these glaring holes in a position group that means so much in today's style of football.
There are a lot of questions that have to be answered.
I don't think you could answer after a bad performance any better than Will Levis did tonight. After a rough outing in Starkville that included three interceptions, he completely turned it around.
On the night, he went 31/49 for 372 yards through the air, added 47 yards on the ground, and totaled five touchdowns (three passing and two rushing).
His mechanics were vastly improved, but the thing that stood out the most tonight is his confidence. When he has played his best this season it is when he is showing the toughness and grit the players and coaches have talked about.
Whether it be ducking his shoulder and trucking a linebacker or hurdling five yards to get in the end zone, when that is the Will Levis that shows up the offense is going to click. Unfortunately tonight, his great effort was overshadowed by a horrific defensive performance.
Also, need to give a shoutout to Liam Coen. After a few rough weeks behind the playsheet, he dialed it up near-perfectly tonight.