Evan Woodbery: Tennessee has matchup edge, but coaching distraction gives edge to Kentucky

Tennessee tailback Marlin Lane carries the ball against Vanderbilt at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess, Knoxville News Sentinel

Tennessee tailback Marlin Lane carries the ball against Vanderbilt at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

Quarterbacks

Injuries have pressed Kentucky freshman Jalen Whitlow into the starting quarterback role far earlier than expected. Whitlow isn't asked to do much in the passing game, and he actually has more rushing touchdowns than passing touchdowns. Tyler Bray is coming off one of the worst games of his career and would like to leave a better impression for NFL evaluators if he decides to leave early.

Edge: Tennessee

Running backs

Kentucky's Raymond Sanders had a season-high 123 yards last week against Samford, but has otherwise had a very ordinary season in a very bad rushing attack. The emergence of Marlin Lane to complement Rajion Neal has been a bright spot in Tennessee's season.

Edge: Tennessee

Wide receivers/tight ends

This will probably be the last game for Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter, but it will definitely be the last game for seniors Mychal Rivera and Zach Rogers, who have combined for 61 catches and 961 yards in 2012. There will be huge holes to fill for the new staff in 2013.

Edge: Tennessee

Offensive line

Looking for optimism for next year? The Vols graduate only one offensive lineman from a unit that has been very strong, although junior Ja'Wuan James could test the NFL waters. Kentucky's offensive line is experienced but not SEC-caliber.

Edge: Tennessee

Defensive line

Kentucky senior Collins Ukwu, a Nashville area native, hopes to be healthy enough to play in the final game of his career. Tennessee's line will be expected to shut down the Wildcats run game after allowing 194 yards on the ground last week against Vandy. Edge: Even

Linebackers

Even a dinged-up Curt Maggitt was an important part of Tennessee's defense, and his ACL injury two weeks ago has hurt the defense. Kentucky junior Avery Williamson has an SEC-high 128 tackles. He has four consecutive games of at least 13 tackles, the first Kentucky player to do so in 22 years. Edge: Even

Secondary

Kentucky only has five interceptions this season. Tennessee had four in the first game. Has Tennessee's bad secondary finally met its match? Edge: Even

Special teams

Kentucky senior kicker Craig McIntosh is reliable inside of 40 yards, but pretty iffy after that. Tennessee's Michael Palardy has settled nicely into his multifaceted role handling kickoffs, field goals and punts. Patterson has the ability to score any time he touches the ball on a return. Edge: Tennessee

Coaching

Both head coaches have been fired. Kentucky's Joker Phillips opted to finish the season, while Tennessee's Derek Dooley thought there would be fewer distractions if he left a week early. Edge: Kentucky

Intangibles

As both teams weather miserable seasons, it's probably a safe assumption that most players (and coaches) are ready to get this year in the books. Who will be more motivated? Tennessee gets a slight edge because it's a home game on Senior Day. Edge: Tennessee

Pick

Kentucky 27, Tennessee 26

Tennessee is clearly the more talented team, but the Vols looked flat and uninspired at Vanderbilt and it's hard to imagine the events of the last week have made things any better.

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Comments » 31

WetumpkaThumpa writes:

No surprise that the Bama grad has picked UK.

Colts_VolFan writes:

Kentucky with a coaching edge? No way. Not with Dooley gone and Joker there. Look for Chaney to go out with a bang and hang 60+ on the Kittens.

volfan1202 writes:

Coach Gruden... can't wait to have you here in Knoxville!

orange_eVOLution writes:

The Vols will win this one.

OrangePsyched writes:

Not that anyone cares but UK has offered HC position to Butch Jones of UC. He has yet to accept or turn it down. I know it's early but getting anxious for us to make an announcement.

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

What is Evan smoking?

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

I know our defense has given up a lot, but Kentucky is terrible. They average 10 points per game in conference play. We average 30. They've given up 36 per game and we've given up 43. We are at -13 in conference scoring margin and they are at -26. Some want to point to our performance against Vandy, but remember, Vandy shut-out Kentucky 40-0 a couple of weeks ago.

This will be at least a 2-TD win for the Vols.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to orangecountyvols:

Vols,

What is Evan smoking?

The same thing that keeps making him think there are only 120 teams in the FBS.

Razor784 writes:

Don't agree with this at all, if you think KY will win because TN will be flat, then wouldn't the intangibles go to KY? Don't see how you can pick UT in every category but one and then pick KY to win.

cltvol writes:

I think KY has more to play for. They like their coach. Our guys seem pretty ambivalent. Just hard to keep the edge for 4 qrtrs. I predicted we would our last 3 conference games. Boy was I wrong. I think I'll predict KY in this one, that way we'll win. Unless Chaney has something up his sleeve on both sides of ball that is way different from so far. He could. I think Chaney is a good coach and a complete football person.

aspenvol2 writes:

Evan is a nice guy, but a green rookie. Still better than punk Rucker. Evan will get better with experience.

GainesvilleVol1 writes:

UT should hang over 45 on KY, while I don't expect over 24 from the Cats. Win for the seniors, and all those leaving. Good Luck Vols! You have weathered the hardest time in UT football history. Remember last year and take revenge!!

GO VOLS!!

Hound_Dog69 writes:

Tenn defense sucks, but UK sucks on offense, defense and special team. Tenn beats down the mild cats and this win will be the start of another quarter centurey + of UT dominance over the cats.

wagee12 writes:

Ha, ha, that's funny there Woodpecker. Hey,here's a little advise, don't ever try to start a career as a football handicapper. BTW, what sports did you play in high school?
BTW, Avery Williamson is from Milan Tennessee. He got no attention from the Duke of Doughnuts and Lame Kitten. He once had 23 tackles in a playoff game vs. Alcoa. Think UT could have used him this year?
Tennessee 40 Kensucky 20.

DavidB writes:

Stupid Article, Tennessee has the edge in almost every catagory or its even but you pick KY by 1. Someone wasnt great at math.

On a side note, I try and admit when I am wrong. I have been pushing to get Trooper Taylor back on the sidelines but read today that he is now in trouble with the NCAA and Auburn has stopped letting him go out and recruit until investigation is completed.

SevenT writes:

Kentucky Freshman Dyshawn Mobley is going to make Tennessee pay tommorrow for snubbing him.

Lock That Up

WetumpkaThumpa writes:

in response to orangecountyvols:

Vols,

What is Evan smoking?

He went to Bama and was editor of The Crimson White Student Newspaper. That's a fact! Not hard to figure him out.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to GlennFordsFoible:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Saying we're much worse off now than when Dooley arrived is one of the stupidest things anybody could say right now. Like him or hate him, there is no question the program is in far better shape now than it was then. There is a full roster, and plenty of talent and experience. Sunseri's defense cost us a lot of games, but only a total dumbarse would say we're worse off.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to SevenT:

Kentucky Freshman Dyshawn Mobley is going to make Tennessee pay tommorrow for snubbing him.

Lock That Up

You forgot to put "Hahahahaha" at the end.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

These comparisons always seem stupid to me. If I were doing them, I would compare the units as they face each other. UT receivers/QB vs UK secondary. UT O-line vs UK D-line. UT secondary vs UK receivers/QB, etc. It really doesn't matter if our O-line is better than their O-line. It matters if our O-line is better than their D-line and our D-line is better than their O-line.

Just sayin'

orange_eVOLution writes:

in response to SevenT:

Kentucky Freshman Dyshawn Mobley is going to make Tennessee pay tommorrow for snubbing him.

Lock That Up

LMAO. This will be a Kentucky thrashing from start to finish. Not even close. Chaney is totally in charge and is gonna pour on some Tyler Bray.

GO VOLS!!

gobigorange5090 writes:

in response to WetumpkaThumpa:

He went to Bama and was editor of The Crimson White Student Newspaper. That's a fact! Not hard to figure him out.

Why are you being racist?

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to GlennFordsFoible:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Dooley inherited a roster that was down about 20 scholarship players. The offensive line had a total of 3 starts between them. There were only 7 upperclassmen starters, and very few of them among the 2's. He had to set records for the number of true freshmen who had to play.

The next coach will inherit a depth chart that will have as many as 17 returning starters, all upperclassmen. He will have a full roster with 85 scholarship players. That, by itself, is more than enough to prove the situation is far better than what Dooley had to work with when he was hired.

How many games were won and lost in the years before he was hired, and how many he won and lost has no bearing on it. This also has nothing to do with whether I liked or supported Dooley either. I do like him, and I did support him right up until he proved to me that he wasn't going to get it done.

No matter how many stupid nicknames you called him, or how many times you called people more patient than yourself "Doolaid drinkers," you are still an idiot, and the program is in better shape now than it was in January of 2010.

WetumpkaThumpa writes:

in response to gobigorange5090:

Why are you being racist?

Haha! You will have to ask a Gump why they named their student newspaper that? I guess anything more creative than the school colors would have been too difficult to figure out? We are talking about the Harvey Updike fan base here.

injunvol writes:

in response to GlennFordsFoible:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

so then what you are saying is - even the great gruden that everyone seems to want will not win many games either for a few more years until he prudges the roster of these marginal players - from what i read the great gruden will have the vols this current roster in the sec hunt next season - which is it it ?

claiborneh writes:

Somebody has to write something...pitiful

CroKev writes:

in response to GlennFordsFoible:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Did you ever play a single day of organized sports?

DwayneElizondoMountainDewHerbertCamacho writes:

Evans...get real. The problem with UT football has been solved. Watch the boys come out and demolish UK.

jawbreaker writes:

in response to 10seVol85_Part_Deux:

These comparisons always seem stupid to me. If I were doing them, I would compare the units as they face each other. UT receivers/QB vs UK secondary. UT O-line vs UK D-line. UT secondary vs UK receivers/QB, etc. It really doesn't matter if our O-line is better than their O-line. It matters if our O-line is better than their D-line and our D-line is better than their O-line.

Just sayin'

You're not "just sayin'", you're stating the obvious.

wagee12 writes:

Woodpecker is starting to remind me of that other peckerwood, that is, thankfully, gone now, Mike Griffyboy Griffin!

Vol_USArmy_Soldier writes:

No Dooley on the sideline = huge + for UT. Vols win this game.

Bye Joker.

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