Tennessee dominates 12th-ranked Kentucky
UT dominates 12th-ranked Wildcats
KNOXVILLE — After completing a deep throw setting up Tennessee’s first touchdown Saturday against Kentucky, quarterback Jarrett Guarantano turned to Wildcats linebacker Josh Allen and barked, “There’s no hit that’s going to take me out!”
That was the kind of swagger the Volunteers had Saturday in a 24-7 Southeastern Conference win over 12th-ranked Kentucky in front of 95,258 at Neyland Stadium.
No such attitude was evident a week earlier in a lackluster 14-3 win over Charlotte, but now the Vols are 5-5, 2-4 in SEC play, in Jeremy Pruitt’s first season as head coach. A year after going 0-8 in the league, Tennessee needs only a win against Missouri this week or Vanderbilt on Nov. 24 to be eligible for a bowl.
The Vols dominated on both sides of the ball, displaying a balanced attack with 215 yards rushing and 197 passing. The 412 total yards and rushing yards are the most this season against a Power Five conference opponent.
“If you take away the couple of turnovers, maybe the really bone-head decision at the end of the game and the penalties after a touchdown, I thought this was far and away the most complete
game our guys have played,” Pruitt said. “I thought our staff done a fantastic job; I thought offensively we found a way to run the football against a really good football team.
“We challenged the players this week that we wanted to have the most rushing yards, and we did. I thought for the first time we played with a bit of physicality for the entire game. It wasn’t perfect, but it was definitely very positive. I know those guys are enjoying that in the locker room.”
Defensively, the Vols shut down Kentucky’s high-powered rushing attack, which came in having averaged 199.6 yards per game. Benny Snell was held to 81 rushing yards and 106 yards of total offense, and the Vols continually got in the backfield applying pressure to quarterback Terry Wilson. Tennessee had five sacks, four by Darrell Taylor, and held Wilson to 172 passing yards.
He did throw a touchdown pass to C.J. Conrad for the game’s final points but also threw an interception to Marquill Osborne, who also picked off Kentucky backup quarterback Gunnar Hoak. The Wildcats (7-3, 5-3) finished with 262 yards of total offense, their second-fewest of the season. So were the 77 rushing yards.
“We were flying around and being real aggressive the whole time,” said Vols linebacker Daniel Bituli, who had eight tackles, including 2.5 for lost yardage. “The coaches emphasized all week we had to play a good 60 minutes. We’ve played 30, 40 minutes of a game, but we really hadn’t played a whole game to our standard, and I felt we did that today.
“We’re just going to learn from the mistakes today and carry on to Missouri.”
The Vols took a 3-0 lead on a 19-yard field goal by Brent Cimaglia in the first quarter, but after Guarantano’s big throw to Tim Jordan on a seam route up the field, Jordan punched it in a play later to put the Vols up 10-0 with 2:05 to play in the first half. The Tennessee defense forced a quick three-and-out, and the Vols used a 14-yard run by Ty Chandler and consecutive completions to Marquez Callaway covering 56 yards to make it 17-0.
The final 39 yards came on a Hail Mary pass into the end zone on the final play of the half.
Callaway’s closest competition for the ball? Teammate Jauan Jennings.
“When they throw it up, we try to catch it,” Callaway said. “I was actually going towards the back, but I drifted in front of him. I know he’s going to yell at me when we see it on film, but I’ll take the yelling.”
Tennessee remained aggressive offensively in the second half, using some trickery for its final points. An end-around by Jordan Murphy — who had two touches for 97 yards Saturday — gained 59 yards and set the Vols up in the red zone. Jordan then had a pair of carries for 14 yards, and Guarantano threw to wide-open Dominick Wood-Anderson in the back of the end zone.
Guarantano threw for 197 yards and was not intercepted, giving him 146 consecutive passes without an interception and breaking Casey Clausen’s program record set in 2003.
Ty Chandler had 89 rushing yards to lead the Vols, while Jordan added 63.
Tennessee’s Dominick Wood-Anderson (4) celebrates after catching a touchdown pass from Jarrett Guarantano in the second half Saturday at Neyland Stadium. The Vols beat 12th-ranked Kentucky 24-7.
Tennessee’s Marquill Osborne (3) breaks up a pass intended for Kentucky’s Isaiah Epps (81) in the third quarter Saturday at Neyland Stadium. Osborne intercepted two passes in the Vols’ 24-7 victory.