Newton is Kentucky's freshman quarterback, and freshman quarterbacks don't have a lot of fun facing Vol defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. Just ask UCLA's Kevin Prince. Kiffin's stunts, blitzes and disguises got him so bewildered that Prince completed just 11 of 23 passes for 101 yards in Game 2. Bruin coach Rick Neuheisel finally quit calling pass plays.
Don't be surprised if Newton suffers a similar fate Saturday night at Commonwealth Stadium. He was ticketed for a redshirt season until No. 1 QB Mike Hartline got hurt in Game 6. Newton has started the six games since then, averaging just 15 pass attempts and 90 passing yards per contest. Clearly, Kentucky's coaches do not want the game in his hands.
That's where Monte Kiffin comes in. Kiffin will do whatever it takes to shut down Kentucky tailback Derrick Locke, forcing the Wildcats to ask more of Newton than he's accustomed to providing. He'll be throwing more than 15 times Saturday night, and some of those passes will wind up in Tennessee's hands.
Newton's inexperience isn't the only reason Tennessee should win Saturday night's game, however. Consider:
- Kentucky ranks 11th among the 12 SEC teams in run defense, allowing 179.3 yards per game. Thus, Tennessee's Montario Hardesty should have a field day in his final regular-season outing.
- At 6-5, the Vols need a decisive win to improve their bowl stock.
"For sure," senior defensive tackle Wes Brown said this week. "We know we have this game and a bowl game, so this is an opportunity to get us to a better bowl game. That's the mentality Coach (Lane) Kiffin wants us to take. It's a great opportunity ..."
"We played particularly well, except the Ole Miss game, on the road," Brown noted. "We definitely want to go to Kentucky, perform well and get a road victory."
- Tennessee is SUPPOSED to beat Kentucky. Heck, the Vols fielded their worst team in 30 years last season and STILL beat a bowl-bound Kentucky squad 28-10.