The Volunteers have been searching for answers at the quarterback position all season. Five different players have taken snaps with few positive results. Kentucky's quarterback, freshman Randall Cobb, is right out of UT's backyard and probably would be starting for the Vols had he stayed home.
The Tennessee running game has been a disappointment, but the personnel is still top-notch; Arian Foster, Lennon Creer and Montario Hardesty are all capable backs. The Wildcats all but abandoned the run two weeks ago after falling behind early against Vanderbilt, but they plan to use tailbacks Alfonso Smith and Tony Dixon more this week.
A year after setting the NCAA record for fewest sacks allowed with four, the Tennessee offensive line has taken a big step backward, allowing 23. UT's 3.6 yards per carry is also near the bottom of the Southeastern Conference. Thanks to the mobility of QB Randall Cobb and the ability of former starter Mike Hartline to get rid of the ball, Kentucky has allowed an SEC-low 11 sacks. But the line play has been inconsistent for most of the season.
Tennessee has not been able to get much out of the passing game because of poor quarterback play, but there are proven receivers in the rotation such as senior Lucas Taylor and sophomore Gerald Jones. The wide receiver position has been Kentucky's biggest weakness all season.
Tennessee is coming off a season-high six sacks against Vanderbilt, but the Volunteers haven't made many plays up front all season. Junior end Wes Brown (31/2 sacks) is the biggest pass-rush threat. UK's line will be hurt by the absence of defensive end Jeremy Jarmon (knee) and defensive tackle Ricky Lumpkin (ankle). The Cats will need tackle Myron Pryor to be the disruptive force he was early in the season before being slowed by a high ankle sprain.
UT has been productive at linebacker, as Ellix Wilson and Rico McCoy have combined for 159 tackles. UK's open date should have middle linebacker Micah Johnson the healthiest he's been since early in the season.
Tennessee can't blame its problems on the secondary. Led by ball-hawking safety Eric Berry, the Vols are second in the SEC in pass defense and have picked off 17 passes while allowing just eight touchdowns. UK's secondary has struggled the past two games, getting lit up by Georgia's Matthew Stafford and Vanderbilt's Chris Nickson.
Both teams have been bad on field goals (Tennessee 10-for-18, Kentucky 11-for-21). But the Cats rank ahead of UT in kickoff returns, punting, punt return average and kickoff coverage