Scouting report: Tennessee football


Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles tries to avoid the Tennessee defense during a run during the first half of the University of Kentucky vs. University of Tennessee men’s football game at Neyland Stadium in Lexington, Tn., on Friday, November 14, 2014 Photo by Jonathan Krueger

UK football is headed into their fifth SEC matchup of the season, as they are set to play The University of Tennessee Volunteers Saturday at Kroger Field.

The Volunteers are back in action in Lexington for the first time since 2015, when they left with a 52-21 victory against the Cats. In their last meeting, UT won 49-36.

Both teams are coming from tough SEC losses. Oddly enough, both lost on the road 45-7, UK’s loss coming from Mississippi State, while Tennessee fell to No. 1 Alabama.

The Volunteers possess one of the nation’s top running backs in junior John Kelly, who is leading the offense through seven games and averaging 124.3 yards from scrimmage (second in SEC). However, due to a suspension relating to a drug possession incident earlier this week, Kelly will not be playing in Lexington this week.

UT has a balanced passing game with 15 players having caught at least one pass already this season. Senior tight end Ethan Wolf, a member of the Mackey Award Watch List for the second consecutive season, is one of UT’s top pass-catching TE’s of all time. He’s surpassed former Tennessee superstar, turned Dallas Cowboy, Jason Witten for fourth most receiving yards by a tight end in program history.

Being the only player to start all seven games this season, sophomore wide receiver Brandon Johnson has emerged as a go-to target this season for the Volunteers, leading the team with 265 receiving yards.

UT’s defense isn’t short of standout athletes, either. Their passing defense has held opponents to an average of 158.1 passing yards per game, the fourth-best among FBS schools.

Defensive back Rashaan Gaulden has proven to be one of the team’s top defenders this season. The redshirt junior had a career high 10 tackles against South Carolina.

UT’s pass rush defense logged seven sacks against UMass. Senior linebacker Colton Jumper, who is in the midst of a career season, contributed to those seven sacks with 2.5. He’s in the midst of a career season, as he leads the team in tackles for loss (7.0) and sacks (4.5).

Tennessee is a force to be reckoned with on special teams as well. Punter Trevor Daniel was named the preseason watch list for the 2017 Ray Guy Award and ranks fourth nationally with a 47.7 net punting average.

Both teams will be entering hungry for a win, and looking to earn an SEC victory at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.