Vols’ Biggest Storylines Going Into The Kentucky Game

Tennessee’s Streak

I think I’m going to start all of these posts with some sort of streak that Tennessee is on. Last week, we had the eight-game win streak. Which, um, ended.

We also had Tennessee’s losing streak to top-10 teams. Which, um, didn’t end. That streak now sits at *34* games.

Whatever. Existence is pain.

Our streak this week is Tennessee’s win streak against Kentucky in Knoxville. The last time Kentucky walked into Knoxville and walked out with a win against Tennessee was 1984. In the 17 tries since, Tennessee has successfully defended their home turf.

Jarrett Guarantano

F***, I don’t want to know anything anymore. This is a world where nothing is solved. Someone once told me, ‘Time is a flat circle.’ Everything we’ve ever done or will do, we’re gonna do over and over and over again.

Rust Cohle in True Detective was a pretty dark dude. Must have been a Tennessee fan.

The above quote describes how Tennessee fans feel about this QB situation to a T.

I won’t lie though. I was going to bat for JG for two-and-a-half games this year. He was managing games, not making game breaking mistakes, and the offense as a whole looked pretty solid.

Then the wheels came off in the second half last weekend. As if we needed more confirmation of what we already knew, it is now abundantly clear JG can’t win against high-level competition.

I don’t know how or why we’ve gotten to this point. I entirely agree that we can’t blame JG anymore. We know what we’re gonna get from him. I don’t entirely agree Jeremy Pruitt is to blame. Pruitt was brought in to get the most out of our defense.

What about Chris Weinke? He’s been QB coach for two years, and we still have some of the worst quarterbacks in the SEC. And Jim Chaney, lauded for his ability to “work with what he has” and “get the most out of his quarterbacks” has disappeared in the big games just as much as JG has. Both of them are far more hands-on with the quarterback group than Pruitt is. Blame them.

I digress. JG will probably start against Kentucky on Saturday. He will be the main talking point before, during, and after the game, regardless of how well it goes. EVERYTHING IS FINE.

Kentucky’s Rushing Offense

In case you haven’t heard yet, Kentucky is all-in on running the ball. They have the No. 1 rushing offense in the SEC. But by the same token, they have the second-worst passing offense.

Remember last year when these two teams met? Kentucky had 327 total yards on offense…and 302 rushing yards.

They aren’t as one-dimensional this year as they were last year. Terry Wilson can throw the ball much better than Lynn Bowden Jr. could. But still, they are going to run the ball 40+ times on Saturday.

Tennessee’s Offensive Line: The Redemption Arc

This group was hyped coming into the year for a dozen different reasons. And after a 230-yard rushing game against Missouri, it seemed like the hype was warranted.

Then Tennessee had -1 rushing yard against Georgia. In the entire game. And the offensive line looked as bad as they could have.

It is abundantly clear Tennessee can’t rely on their quarterback or passing game to win games on offense. They’re never going to win if Guarantano has to throw the ball 36 times, like they did against Georgia. They will have to rely on this offensive line and running back group to create offense going forward.

Saturday will be a good chance for them to get back on track, offensively.

Can Tennessee Get Back On Track?

This is the big one. Going into the season, we all thought Tennessee was going to lose to Georgia. Now that it’s happened, just like everyone expected, everyone thinks the season is falling apart and Pruitt hasn’t made any progress since he has been here and everything is terrible and we should fire up the coaching hot boards.

R-E-L-A-X.

Last I checked, we all just wanted to beat the teams we were supposed to beat, and close the gap with Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. It makes me sick to type, but that’s the closest we’ve come to beating Georgia since we actually beat them in 2016. I just gagged a little bit.

That said, the sky is not falling. Yet. If/when Tennessee gets out of Neyland with a win on Saturday against a sneaky challenging Kentucky team, they’ll have another chance to show improvement against a top-level team the following weekend.

EVERYTHING IS FINE.