Staff predictions: UK football vs. Tennessee


Garrett Johnson #9 of the Kentucky Wildcats looks down field as he carries the ball during the game against EKU on Saturday, September 9, 2017 in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky defeated EKU 27-16. Photo by Carter Gossett | Staff

Sports Staff

Ahead of UK football’s game against the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday, the Kernel sports staff sat down to give their thoughts on the game.

Now that running back John Kelly is suspended, who is the player on offense who poses the biggest threat to UK?

Chris Leach (Sports Editor): Marquez Callaway. The Cats have susceptible to opponents’ top receivers this season, and Callaway is coming off of a bad game against Alabama, meaning he’ll be fired up for redemption. Callaway’s best game this year was a four catch, 115 yard and two touchdown performance in Tennessee’s opener.

Chase Campbell (Assistant Sports Editor): Marquez Callaway. UK allows more pass yards per game than any other team in the SEC, and receivers have run rampant against the team all season. With Kelly out, the Tennessee offense will lean more on the pass than they normally would have, and the Cats get bothered by Callaway’s athleticism.

UK’s offense rushes for over/under 150 yards?

Leach: Over. Tennessee gives up 247 rushing yards a game, and similar to Callaway, Benny Snell is coming off of a bad game, and will be motivated to bounce back. Plus, Sihiem King looked good last week, so, I expect the Cats’ rushing offense to perform well on Saturday.

Campbell: Over. Tennessee’s pass defense is the stronger of the two play types they defend against. They got a long pick six against the mighty Crimson Tide, famous for hardly ever giving the ball away. Because of this, the Cats will plan a run-heavy game, and have more success there as well.

Garrett Johnson is only 81 yards away from becoming UK’s fourth receiver with 2,000 career yards. Does he get 81 yards against the Volunteers?

Leach: Not quite. With Stephen Johnson’s ability to spread the ball around, and Tennessee’s strong pass defense, I think “Juice” will have to wait until next week to accomplish history. Expect a lot of receivers to contribute in some sort of way as usual.

Campbell: Yes, but not because he gets targeted the most. Expect CJ Conrad to have just as good of a game, since he had a real focus on getting better this week. Because of the focus on Conrad and others, I expect Johnson to have a couple pass plays he breaks for big yards.

If Tennessee loses, do they fire head coach Butch Jones after the game?

Leach: I don’t think so. If Tennessee has held on to Butch Jones this long, they’ll likely hold onto him until the end of the season, unless something drastic happens. However, come end of the season, I think Tennessee will be looking for a new head coach.

Campbell: No. This isn’t to say Butch Jones’s job is safe, he’s essentially already fired to the fan base. But after their recent failures, a loss to Kentucky isn’t really a “last straw” kind of situation.


Leach: 23-14, UK

Campbell: 24-7, UK