IT's Take: Kentucky

Tennessee dominated Kentucky in Neyland Satdium,get the opinions of the InsideTennessee plus grades on offense, defense and special teams.

PARKER

Danny Parker's thoughts

What's not to like? Other than the ejection to safety Brian Randolph, the injury to center Mack Crowder and another opposing receiver having a career night, it was an evening of positives for Tennessee.

Inching one step closer to reaching an obtainable goal of reaching bowl eligibility, the Volunteers took another quantum leap ahead with their offense, this time totaling 511 yards. Joshua Dobbs used nine different targets in his 19 completions, narrowly missing a second straight 300-yard passing game. The sophomore netted 48 on the ground with a touchdown to go with his three scoring strikes through the air.

Putting up points and gaining yards versus a struggling Kentucky defense was easy to predict. Holding the Wildcats to 262 yards and interception two passes (one for a touchdown) showed much improvement in the Tennessee defense.

Add in three made field goals and fantastic coverage team work, and it's not hard to call this the most impressive performance of the season for the Big Orange (at least since drubbing Utah State).

Now, I have to go figure out a game prediction for Missouri-Tennessee.

GRADES

Defense —B+

Offense —A

Special teams —B

MOORE

Randy Moore's thoughts

Now that is what a Tennessee-Kentucky football game is supposed to look like.

The fired-up Vols spotted UK a 3-0 lead, then scored the next 30 points (four touchdowns and a field goal) to go up 30-3 in the second quarter. The Big Blue never seriously threatened thereafter. Tennessee piled on points, then emptied the bench en route to a 50-16 romp.

Joshua Dobbs had another big game at quarterback, completing 19 of 27 passes for 297 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions. His passer-efficiency rating was a mind-boggling 199.4. He also rushed 10 times for 48 yards. Actually, he was nine for 58 yards if you discount a 10-yard sack. Clearly, his mobility has taken Tennessee’s offense to a level unimagined earlier this season.

Jalen Hurd had a big game, too. After rushing for a season-high 125 yards at South Carolina in Game 9, he came back with 118 yards on 24 carries in Game 10. He is evolving into a star right before our eyes. Big Jason Croom (6-feet-5, 243 pounds) finally put together a game to match his frame, catching three passes for 87 yards and a touchdown.

Even playing subs the final quarter, Tennessee piled up 511 yards of total offense. That’s a good day’s work, even against a defense as weak as Kentucky’s.

Defensively, Tennessee did an excellent job containing a big-play UK offense led by dual-threat QB Patrick Towles. I would give the defense an A except it got complacent when the Vols went up 30-3, allowing Kentucky to score 10 points in the final four minutes of the first half. Pardon me for stating the obvious, but freshman defensive end Derek Barnett is going to be very special. He had four tackles for loss against the Cats and seemed to be in UK’s backfield all night.

Aaron Medley booted field goals of 38, 21 and 39 yards. His only miss was a 48-yarder but he botched a PAT, which can bite you in the butt against a quality opponent. Matt Darr had a solid night punting the ball. The Vols’ punt and kickoff coverage were solid. Evan Berry popped a 39-yard kickoff return and was one step from going all the way. He’s electrifying with the ball in his hands, like older brother Eric.

Overall, the Vols did what they’re supposed to do … they tamed the Wildcats.

GRADES

Defense — B

Offense — A

Special teams — B

Steven Peake's thoughts

For some, the UK hype was over after LSU smacked them around to the tune of a 41-3 loss but many associated with Big Orange Country were still nervous about the potential of Kentucky spoiling their Vols’ chances of going to a bowl.

Coming in, these two teams were in similar situations. Both teams had only one decent win and both came from comeback wins over South Carolina. Both teams needed to win this game to make a bowl. By halftime we knew which team that would be. This was the kind of Tennessee-Kentucky matchup a lot of us grew up with. After Kentucky took a 3-0 lead, it was all Tennessee.

For the first time all season both the offense and defense were having fun out on the field. This was a Tennessee team that looked like they should be right there with the best in the SEC East, a team they will play next week.

Most expected Tennessee to put up some point because of how porous the Kentucky defense is but I don’t know how many suggested the Volunteers could score 50 points in just three quarters. The last time Tennessee put up 50-plus in an SEC game was a 52-14 win over Ole Miss in 2010.

As for being scared about the weapons Kentucky has on offense, the Volunteers held the Cats to just 16 points. That’s the fewest amount of points the Vols have surrendered against an SEC opponent since the 10-9 loss to Florida. With all of the praising we have done of the defense, there is still one thing they haven’t done this year…score a touchdown. When Brian Randolph put an end to that with a 23-yard pick six, it was almost sure to be a good day for the fans in orange and white.

Missouri will be much better than Kentucky, especially on defense but the way these Vols are playing with confidence there is very little reason to doubt they can finish this season 7-5.

GRADES

Defense —A

Offense —A

Special teams —B

WOODWARD

Josh Woodward's thoughts

Tennessee opened up a can on Kentucky tonight, the Vols couldn’t be stopped on offense as it kept the crowd warm for most of the game with all the fireworks. As Randy Moore sat next to me saying, “This is how Tennessee is supposed to beat Kentucky.” The Vols are one step closer to a bowl game, which with the way Vanderbilt is playing they will likely make it.

Offensively Tennesseee looked great, the way Dobbs fits this offense he makes it run on all cylinders. Nothing against Justin Worley but he was holding Tennessee back. Dobbs threw the ball well all over the field and continues to make defenders miss in the pocket. Jalen Hurd is running great and with Dobbs on the field it helps open him up more.

I thought Jason Croom had the game of his life, he made an outstanding run on his 52 yard catch. It was good to see the tight ends involved this game, they were running wide open down the seam most of the game. This team has averaged over 38 points a game with Dobbs at quarterback.

Defensively after the first drive the Vols settled down and held Kentucky to less 300 yards on offense. Kentucky was able to spread Tennessee out some and run the quarterback draw for most of their rushing yards. Derek Barnett had 2 more sacks, he will surely be a freshman All American for Tennessee. The Brian Randolph ejection for targeting was questionable, he will miss the first half of the Missouri game.

Special Teams was probably the only disaapointing thing about the game for Tennessee fans. Medley missed an extra point and long field goal. Evan Berry is a bright spot on kick off returns. He has the ability to take one to the house each time he touches it.

GRADES

Defense--A

Offense—B+

Special teams—C

Kyler Kerbyson on O-line tested weekly

Kyler Kerbyson on O-line tested weekly


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