It was the worst of times and it was the worst of time for the two sides of the ball for Tennessee in a 49-36 victory over the Kentucky Wildcats. Many players performed well on offense and even the defense had some bright spots. Let's take a look at what players saw their stock rise or fall.
Derek Barnett: There is just one last game at Neyland Stadium for the man that stands just two sacks shy of the Minister of Defense, Reggie White. Barnett recorded one sack against the 'Cats while being double teamed much of the day. He is a pure joy to watch.
Joshua Dobbs: Dobbs moved to 4-0 verses the 'Cats as the starting quarterback and will always be remembered as a thorn in their side. He played masterfully for the second straight game but this time it was his legs and his arm that shined — unlike last week. Dobbs ran for 147 yards and two touchdowns while throwing for 223 and three more scores.
Stephen Griffin: The game-changing play of the day was by Griffin. Trailing 28-16 in third quarter Kentucky was driving for what appeared to be a touchdown that would cut the Vols lead within a score. Griffin, who had just entered the game for an injured Todd Kelly Jr., forced a fumble that was recovered by the Volunteers. The home team then quickly put the game out of reach. The safety potentially is going to be a key member of the Vols secondary moving forward depending on the extent of the Kelly injury.
Josh Malone: Malone is no longer quietly having an explosive year as people are starting to notice. He now is staking a claim to be at the top in of the SEC stats in receiving stats and touchdowns. Malone added 92 yards and another touchdown against the 'Cats. He is a legit All-SEC performer now in his third year with the Vols.
Alvin Kamara: I hope Vols fans realize how determined Kamara was to get back on the field and play for this program. It would have been easy just to coast into rehab and start preparing for the NFL draft. As Inky Johnson would say, Kamara proved that Power T meant something to him. He rushed for 128 yards and two touchdowns in his return. The A.K. and the J.K. running back combination is alive and well.
Cam Sutton: Much in the same way that Kamara should be applauded, Tennessee fans need to applaud Sutton. He spent countless time rehabbing his broken ankle and also proved how much that Power T means to him. Sutton returned to the field and had a number of plays that allowed a struggling defense to get off the field.
Corey Vereen: Vereen has given the Vols a legit pass rusher opposite of Barnett this second half of his senior season. Against Kentucky he recorded three tackles for loss with two being sacks. He is taking advantage of opposing offensive coordinators allocating extra blockers on Barnett, which has allowed Vereen to rush against a single blocker.
Drew Richmond: It has been tough year for the redshirt freshman left tackle. He lost his starting job and due to Chance Hall being unavailable and got the start against Kentucky. While it was not a perfect performance, as he was beaten a few times, it was his best performance as a Vol. It was a much-needed positive performance for a player that many had such high hopes for.
Elliot Berry: Berry spent much of his day chasing Kentucky running backs from behind. He started his second straight game beside Daren Kirkland Jr but was pulled a number of times after poor plays. One of those times was after a 15-yard late hit where he was chasing down the quarterback from behind.
Daren Kirkland Jr: It is becoming painfully obvious that we are not going to see the Kirkland that is an elite linebacker in the SEC due to still nursing an ankle injury from earlier in the season until the bowl game at best. He is playing with great effort but just is not full speed nor able to play the amount of plays the Vol coaches would want.
Todd Kelly Jr: The lack of speed is really hurting Kelly at this point. He has a good nose for the football and is a good tackler when his speed allows him to get to the football. Perhaps a change to outside linebacker would be an option for one of the leaders of the Tennessee defense in the off season.
Jonathon Kongbo: I have to keep giving Danny Parker credit for being the only media member in Knoxville willing to slow the expectations down in preseason for Kongbo. Kongbo needs to develop some things both on and off the playing field. He spent the first half of the Kentucky game without a helmet on the sidelines and then was allowed to play sparingly in the second half.