Brendan Quinn: Kentucky's struggling offense vs. UT's struggling defense a matchup to watch

Tennessee defenders stop a run by Kentucky wide receiver La'Rod King at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2011. UT lost to UK for the first time since 1984 with a score of 10-7.(AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess, ©KNS/2011

Tennessee defenders stop a run by Kentucky wide receiver La'Rod King at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2011. UT lost to UK for the first time since 1984 with a score of 10-7.(AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

Matchups to watch

Kentucky offense vs. UT defense

Kentucky's bumbling offense is ranked 111th nationally in passing yards (170.0), 94th in rushing yards (136.2) and 116th in points per game (18.0). The Wildcats will meet their match in ineptitude this weekend. The Vols defense ranks 112th in passing (285.9), 92nd in rushing (190.2) and 111th in points allowed (37.4)

Outgoing Kentucky coach Joker Phillips vs. interim UT coach Jim Chaney

How many times in the 107 meetings between Tennessee and Kentucky did both head coaches know it was likely their last game at their respective schools? That'll be the case today. Phillips, already canned two weeks ago, is enjoying a going away tour of sorts. Chaney, meanwhile, replaced Derek Dooley this week and is unlikely to be retained by UT's new head coach.

Stock up

UT RB Marlin Lane

Lost in the recent misery of Vols football has been the steady growth of Lane. The sophomore has averaged 6.7 yards per carry on 43 runs over the past three weeks. He's also emerged as a versatile weapon out of the backfield. His 14 receptions in November rank third on the team behind Justin Hunter (23) and Cordarrelle Patterson (15).

Kentucky LB Avery Williamson

A bright spot on a bad defense, Williamson has been credited with 60 — yes, 60 — tackles in Kentucky's past four games. The junior now leads the SEC in total tackles with 128 and ranks third nationally in tackles per game with 11.6. Last week, Williamson added two sacks to a 13-tackle performance in a win over Samford.

Stock down

UT QB Tyler Bray

Many are still wondering whom some of those passes Bray threw were intended for last weekend. Against Vanderbilt, Bray never found his rhythm and was pulled twice for arrant passes and poor decisions. Chaney has said the junior will start today despite completing just 11 of 29 passes with two interceptions in the Vandy debacle.

UK's health report

Of all the problems Dooley had to tackle, a rash of injuries wasn't one of them. The same can't be said for Phillips. Kentucky lost starting quarterback Maxwell Smith (ankle), both its 2011 starting running back Josh Clemons (knee) and 2012 starter CoShik Williams (hip) and three different safeties to season-ending injuries this year.

Tweets of the week

ESPN sports business reporter Darren Rovell

"Counting a $5M buyout, Tennessee paid Derek Dooley $294,444 per game coached."

Lexington Herald-Leader columnist Mark Story

"If UK beats UT Saturday, Joker Phillips would become first Cats coach with multiple victories over Vols since Fran Curci (1976, '77, '81)"

UT senior CB Corey Alexander

I expect to see Neyland Stadium packed on Saturday! #seniornight

UT junior WR Cordarrelle Patterson

I am thankful for being home with my family on thanksgiving and also thankful for having the vol fans and all they support! #VolNation

Prediction

Tennessee 31, Kentucky 30

What happens when two teams winless in the SEC and searching for head coaches meet in a half-empty, hundred-thousand seat stadium on a cool November afternoon? Magic. Vols win on a last-second field goal. Chaney gets carried off the field. Goal posts come down.

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Comments » 16

TKO writes:

Probably will end in a turnover.

SevierVol writes:

A pick-6 to end it would be appropriate since neither team has played a lick of defense all year. At least one of the defenses would have something positive to remember

rootin4volz writes:

"Kentucky's struggling offense vs. UT's struggling defense a matchup to watch"

Woo-hoo. Yeah. That oughta be somethin' exciting to watch. woo-hoo.

Thank GOD my tickets sold on StubHub.

LibertyVol writes:

Better be the lineman carrying off CJC. Go Vols.

Volunatic writes:

I'm taking my daughter to the game, but if she says she wants to leave after 1 quarter, it won't break my heart.

oldster writes:

UT's defense is not "struggling." It gave up a long, long time ago. They know they suck, so they have just admitted it and are now determined to be the absolute worst. First, they became the worst in school history. Now, it seem, they are determined to become the worst in the history of oraganized (allegedly organized, anyway) football. I believe that I would give up the game were I a part of this group.

atnvol#283282 writes:

Goal posts coming down??....get real....besides, the athletic department cannot afford it.

Sir_Spanky writes:

Sisters of the poor.

6972 writes:

This has the same excitement level as the badminton game at my mother in laws house following the chitterling Thanksgiving dinner.

Nevertheless I'll be watching as I have done for years.

SevenT writes:

Unemployed Coaches Bowl

SouthDakotaBob writes:

Got to watch, but man this has been a tough year.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

111th in passing..Wow..there maybe hope for our sorry excuse for a secondary..When your that bad passing it usually means the QB is making really bad passes which is the only way our CB's can survive..We might actually get a sack too!

Razor784 writes:

in response to LibertyVol:

Better be the lineman carrying off CJC. Go Vols.

There's not enough of them.

MarbleCitySon writes:

Some of these predictions are laughable at best. Despite our underachieving defense, to put it politely, if the offense just goes through the motions they should be able to put up somewhere in the neighborhood of 42 or 49. I can see a UT 49, uk 24

Tru138 writes:

in response to SouthDakotaBob:

Got to watch, but man this has been a tough year.

+1

UTKin1992 writes:

I thought this day would never come: the requiem of the darkest era in Tennessee football history. Good riddance.

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