KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee travels to Kentucky this weekend as an underdog for the first time since 2007.
The Vols offense has struggled all season. Trying to spark some production just got harder, too. Tennessee suspended starting running back John Kelly for the Kentucky game after he was cited for marijuana possession earlier this week.
Running against Kentucky hasn’t been an easy endeavor. Tennessee coach Butch Jones brought it up during his news conference on Monday.
“When you look at them in terms of the turnover margin, they are plus-6,” Jones said. “They are third in the SEC in rush defense, only allowing about 124 yards per game. They have some very talented players.”
The offensive line will have to protect better if the running game struggles. Vols redshirt freshman quarterback Jarrett Guarantano has been sacked 11 times in his first two starts.
Guarantano has not had enough time to sit in the pocket and push the ball down the field. He threw for 133 yards against South Carolina and 44 against Alabama.
Kentucky should pose less of a pass rush threat this week. Keeping Guarantano upright and giving him time to make plays might be the biggest key.
Jones has brought up the lack of big-play ability at almost every postgame news conference this season. Creating a solid pocket for Guarantano might be enough to turn around that trend.
WMNL’s Josh Ward and SEC Country’s Joe Mussatto discuss what the Wildcats have done well and what they have lacked this season.