Remember when we were convinced Jeremy Pruitt was the worst coach ever? After three straight wins his Vols are sitting at 5-5 after a 17-13 win over the Wildcats. It wasn’t ugly but Tennessee was able to make just enough plays to pull out a road victory.
It was the Wildcats though that were able to get off to a fast start. By fast start I mean a methodical 17 play drive that took over 10 minutes of game time. Lynn Bowden Jr. was able to lead a rushing attack down to the goal line and Asim Rose was able to punch it in from two yards out and it was 7-0. The Vols offense as unable to do anything and then the punt was blocked. Set up with a short field on the 2nd play, Kavosiey Smoke found paydirt and it was 13-0 Kentucky because the extra point was missed.
After another Vol punt, the UT defense was able to finally get a stop and the offense woke up a bit. Brian Maurer led the offense down the field and had 2nd and 7 at the Kentucky 13 yards line. A penalty backed them up though to the 28 yard line. They were able to get some of it back but had to settle for a Brent Cimaglia 26 yard field goal. Kentucky found themselves driving again but Bowden Jr. was intercepted on first down at the 37 yards line. UT was unable to do anything the rest of the half and it remained 13-3
Jarrett Guarantano took over at QB and right after the half he led the Vols right down the field. Guarantano ended the drive with a touchdown pass to Marquez Callaway to cut into the Wildcat lead 13-10. Much like Kentucky in the 1st half the Vols scored forced a punt, got the ball back and marched it right back down the field. Guarantano again was at the helm of this drive and the recipient of his 2nd touchdown pass on the night was Josh Palmer. Kentucky got the ball back looking to respond but on fourth and six at the UT 32 yard line Bowden Jr. was sacked by Matthew Butler.
UT had to punt again and once more Kentucky looked to regain the lead. On a drive that took six minutes they again had a fourth down in Tennessee territory. This time Bowden Jr. was able to get a pass off but it fell incomplete. Tennessee took over but on the 2nd down play Ty Chandler fumbled and Kentucky had one more chance starting at the 45 yard line. Eleven running plays later and six and a half minutes of game time later Kentucky had fourth and goal at the Tennessee two. They chose to run the option with Bowden who kept it and was stopped short of the endzone for the Tennessee win.
Throwing the ball both starters were mediocre. From Lynn Bowden Jr. that is too be expected as he is a wide receiver after all. He went 4/7 for 25 yards and a pick. Brian Maurer went 7/16 for 98 yards. Jarrett Guarantano stepped in though and went a calm collected 7/8 for 115 yards and two touchdowns.
The running game for UT was awfulm as Guarantano was the leading rusher with just 30 yards. Bowden Jr. carried the ball 26 times for 114 yards and Christopher Rodriguez Jr. got 12 carries for 81 yards. Kavosiey Smoke got eight carries for 58 yards and a touchdown. Asim Rose carried the rock 16 times and found the endzone once. When you throw seven passes there is a lot of rushing opportunities to go around. Marquez Callaway was the big play receiver in this one hauling in four passes for 103 yards and the touchdown.
Tennessee goes on a bye before having two opportunities at bowl eligibility with games at Missouri and at home against Vanderbilt. Kentucky will have to beat two of three at Vanderbilt, against Tennessee Martin and at home against Louisville.