KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee kept pace in the SEC East standings Saturday, racking up close to 600 yards in a crazy 49-36 win over Kentucky at Neyland Stadium.
Quarterback Josh Dobbs accounted for 404 total yards and 5 touchdowns, while junior tailback Alvin Kamara made his triumphant return, with 128 rushing yards and 2 scores.
The Vols totaled 20 “chunk plays” and they needed just about every last one of them, as they were gashed on the ground for an astounding 443 yards — the third-most allowed all-time at UT — by UK’s three-headed monster at tailback. The ‘Cast finished with 635 yards and lost by two scores.
Let that sink in.
Tennessee is now 7-3, and still needs Florida, who beat South Carolina on Saturday, to lose at LSU next weekend to reach Atlanta for the first time since 2007.
Vols coach Butch Jones will recap Saturday’s win shortly.
* “Hard fought, very, very good team victory.”
* “Being able to run the football the way we did. … We only had five third downs the entire game. I thought our offensive line (played well).”
* “What can I say about the return of Alvin Kamara and Cam Sutton.” … Complemented their “selfless” act. “They willed themselves back.”
* Jones said the difference in the game was red zone defense. Held UK to field goals (plus a turnover) on 4 of 6 chances inside the 20-yard line.
* “I thought we had a great offensive gameplan. … We were efficient.”
* Jones joked about telling the officials pregame that Tennessee would actually have a full compliment of captains at the coin toss. Said Kamara and Sutton could’ve easily packed it in and looked toward the future. “They wanted to come back and play. … It speaks volumes for their competitive character and their compassion for their teammates.”
* No update on safety Todd Kelly Jr., who was injured on a long throw in the second half. Praises Stephen Griffin for coming in and forcing a fumble a couple plays later.
* “I’m not pleased with the way we played special teams.”
* Jones said Sutton was targeted to return next weekend against Missouri. “He came back a week early.” New Butchism: We live in a SportsCenter society. You only see the highlights. Not the eight hours of work Sutton, Kamara, etc. put into rehabbing to get back.
* Tennessee changed its entire pregame routine with noon kickoff.
* “The yards, the rush yards, that’s a prideful group and we have to get that corrected.” … Notes missed run-fits, missed tackles, had issues with techniques/assignments.
* Jones lamenting some penalty mistakes (false start on 4th down, personal foul after a defensive stop).
* “There were a number of times we answered their scores.” … Notes momentum, forcing pressure on UK.
* Jones on Dobbs big day: “We knew we needed to run him.” … “He had a great command of the line of scrimmage.”