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Tennessee loses key starter for the season

A big loss for the Vols’ defense.

Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel Saul Young/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

Saturday is a big game for the Kentucky Wildcats and Tennessee Volunteers after the teams took a brutal loss to their last opponent while having a big lead and then eventually blowing it.

The one big difference for both teams will be Kentucky coming off a bye week to get fully healthy and rested going into the Tennessee game. Meanwhile, the Volunteers just took a loss to Alabama and now will be without star cornerback Kamal Hadden after suffering a shoulder injury in their last game.

Hadden just recently announced he would have surgery to fix his injury and miss the remainder of the 2023 season.

A redshirt senior, Hadden, was having a great season with 19 tackles, eight pass breakups, and three interceptions during the seven games this season as Tennessee’s defense has really stepped up.

Before the Alabama game, the Vols were allowing just 17 points per game. The only time the defense did not step up was in the Florida game, where they eventually lost 29-16.

It looked like Tennessee was in control this past week at Alabama, taking a 20-7 lead into halftime. But in the second half, it was a completely different story. The defense allowed Alabama to score 27 unanswered points, and Tennessee took their second loss of the season, losing 34-20. It was the first time they allowed over 30 points in a game all year.

If Kentucky wants to win this game, they will have to play a complete game on the offensive side with the wide receivers struggling to catch and Devin Leary struggling at times to make accurate passes. The only consistent option this season has been running back Ray Davis, who has carried the offense on his back.

Hopefully on Saturday, the Cats get their first win over the Vols since 2020 and the first win at home since 2017. To do so, Kentucky will have to play much more disciplined than what we saw against Georgia and Missouri.

If the Cats play more like we saw in the Week 5 beatdown of Florida, they could get their sixth win of the season and become bowl eligible for the eighth straight year.