UK Football

Kentucky football matchups: Tennessee at UK

Tennessee wide receiver Da'Rick 
Rogers made an acrobatic catch for a touchdown over Vanderbilt defensive back Casey Hayward last week. Rogers leads the SEC with 65 catches.
Tennessee wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers made an acrobatic catch for a touchdown over Vanderbilt defensive back Casey Hayward last week. Rogers leads the SEC with 65 catches. AP

Who has the advantage?

Quarterback

At Georgia, Kentucky true freshman Maxwell Smith played decently in the first half (13-for-25 for 125 yards with a TD and two picks). He did not fare so well (4-for-9 for 8 yards) in the second half. He also suffered a sprained throwing shoulder. It will be a game-time decision whether Smith or Morgan Newton starts Saturday. After missing five weeks with a broken thumb, Tennessee's Tyler Bray threw for 189 yards and two TDs against Vanderbilt.

Running back

After an injury-marred season, UK's Raymond Sanders looked healthy and quick last week. He is listed as co-first-string tailback with leading rusher CoShik Williams. UT's Taurean Poole ran for 107 yards against Vandy, his third 100-yard-plus effort of the season. Still, UT is last in the SEC (92.7 yards a game) in rushing.

Wide receiver

La'Rod King, UK's leading receiver, had no catches at Georgia. Of Matt Roark's 36 receptions, 24 have come in the past four games. Tennessee's Da'Rick Rogers leads the SEC with 65 receptions. Of those, 52 have gone for either a touchdown (nine) or a first down. True freshman DeAnthony Arnett has 21 catches and two TDs.

Tight end

Anthony Kendrick (three), Nick Melillo (two) and Tyler Robinson (one, a TD) all had receptions for UK last week. Tennessee's Mychal Rivera has 27 receptions for 327 yards.

Offensive line

The Kentucky line will be looking to go out on a high note after a tough season. This will be the final UK start for tackles Chandler Burden and Billy Joe Murphy and guard Stuart Hines, all seniors. Notre Dame transfer Alex Bullard starts at center for UT. The Volunteers have allowed the third fewest sacks (16) in the SEC.

Defensive line

Mister Cobble had a sack and four tackles at Georgia. His running mate at tackle for UK, Donte Rumph, should be close to full speed Saturday after battling an ankle injury. Tennessee senior tackle Malik Jackson is a playmaker (nine TFL, 10 QB hurries, 2.5 sacks).

Linebacker

This will be the final Commonwealth Stadium appearance for Danny Trevathan. The All-America candidate turned in one of the best individual games ever by a Kentucky defender (17 tackles, three TFL, two forced fumbles) at Georgia. Senior middle linebacker Ronnie Sneed has had a good year (70 stops) for the Cats. UT is getting strong play from a pair of true-freshmen outside linebackers in A.J. Johnson (71 tackles) and Curt Maggitt (49 stops).

Secondary

Given the quality of opposition, UK cornerbacks Randall Burden and Anthony Mosley played their best games of the season at Georgia. Kentucky standout hybrid safety/linebacker Winston Guy played through a painful shoulder injury last week. He should be healthier against the Vols. Free safety Prentiss Waggner leads UT in passes defended (9). Nickel back Eric Gordon beat Vandy last week with a 90-yard interception-return TD in OT.

Special teams

Kentucky punter Ryan Tydlacka (43.7 average) and place-kicker Craig McIntosh (11-for-13 field goals) are major strengths. UK's putrid return game is not. UT is last in the SEC in net punting (33.9 yards). Place-kicker Michael Palardy is 9-for-13 on field goals. The Vols are fourth in the SEC in kickoff returns and seventh in punt returning.

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