UK Football

Kentucky at Tennessee: How they match up and a game prediction

Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles threw a pass that was batted down in the second quarter.
Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles threw a pass that was batted down in the second quarter. Herald-Leader

How Kentucky and Tennessee match up for Saturday's game at Neyland Stadium:

QUARTERBACKS

In his previous two games, Kentucky's Patrick Towles has had some accuracy problems (35 for 68). The redshirt sophomore ran for 60 yards and a TD against Georgia. While leading Tennessee to a comeback, overtime victory over South Carolina, Joshua Dobbs became the first quarterback in UT history to throw for more than 300 yards (301) and run for more than 100 (166) in the same game. The Kentucky defense will probably have a hard time confusing the 6-foot-3, 216-pound sophomore — Dobbs is an aerospace engineering major.

Advantage: Even

RUNNING BACKS

Kentucky true freshman Stanley "Boom" Williams scooted for 100 yards rushing, including a 56-yard TD run last week against Georgia. He now has two 100-yards-plus rushing games this season (he had 104 against Louisiana-Monroe). Tennessee true freshman Jalen Hurd, a five-star recruit out of Hendersonville, Tenn., ran for 125 yards at South Carolina. Earlier this year, he had 119 yards against Georgia.

Advantage: Tennessee

WIDE RECEIVERS

Seniors Demarco Robinson (five catches for 43 yards) and Javess Blue (three for 39) were Kentucky's most productive wideouts against Georgia. UK leading receiver Ryan Timmons (41 catches) caught only one pass last week and has been dropped to second string on this week's depth chart. In 6-4 sophomore Marquez North (30 receptions) and 6-3 freshman Josh Malone (20), Tennessee has length and talent on the outside. The Vols' leading receiver, however, is 5-8 junior Pig Howard (35 catches). He has caught a pass in 29 straight games.

Advantage: Tennessee

TIGHT ENDS

Kentucky senior Steven Borden (three catches) has not played since the LSU game because of injury. Tennessee true freshman Ethan Wolf, a Minster, Ohio, product whom UK tried to recruit, has 19 catches for 164 yards. He has caught a pass in every game in which he has played.

Advantage: Tennessee

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN

Kentucky junior right tackle Jordan Swindle committed his ninth illegal-procedure penalty of the season last week against Georgia and was pulled, at least temporarily, in favor of redshirt freshman Kyle Meadows. Tennessee lost all five of its starters from 2013's offensive line. The Vols have allowed more sacks (32 in nine games) than any team in the SEC. Right guard Jashon Robertson is the fourth true freshman in school history to start in his first college game.

Advantage: Kentucky

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN

After going without a sack against Georgia, Kentucky senior end Alvin "Bud" Dupree needs five more to pass Oliver Barnett's school record of 26. Tennessee end Derek Barnett is an emerging star. The 6-3, 267-pound Nashville product leads all SEC true freshmen in tackles with 49 and is second overall in the league with 14 tackles for loss.

Advantage: Even

LINEBACKERS

UK middle linebacker Josh Forrest tied for the team high with seven tackles against Georgia. Tennessee senior middle linebacker A.J. Johnson has had double-figure tackles in 23 of his 45 career games. The 6-2, 245 pounder from Gainesville, Ga., is the leading tackler in the SEC this season with 96.

Advantage: Tennessee

SECONDARY

Kentucky safeties Ashely Lowery (seven stops) and A.J. Stamps (six) were two of the Wildcats' three leading tacklers last week — it is not usually a good sign when a team's safeties are making a lot of stops. Tennessee sophomore cornerback Cameron Sutton has three interceptions. Senior cornerback Justin Coleman, a player Kentucky recruited, has started 30 games in a row and has two interceptions.

Advantage: Tennessee

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kentucky has allowed four kick return touchdowns (two punts, two kickoffs) in its last four games. On 52 punts, UK's Landon Foster (42.6 yards a kick) has pinned foes inside their 20-yard line a robust 25 times. Tennessee punter Matt Darr is averaging 41.3 yards a kick. Place-kicker Aaron Medley is 13-for-18 on field goals with a long of 46 yards.

Advantage: Tennessee

PREDICTION

Tennessee 30, Kentucky 21

MARK STORY

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