KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee looks to pick up its third consecutive win and first road victory on Saturday against SEC East foe Kentucky.
The game is slated for a 7:30 p.m. (ET) kick and will be the Vols’ penultimate road contest of the regular season. A victory would put UT (4-5, 2-3 SEC) at .500, with the team looking for its first win in Lexington, Ky., since its 52-21 triumph in 2015.
Saturday’s contest will be televised on SEC Network with Tom Hart (PxP), Jordan Rodgers (analyst), and Cole Cubelic (sideline) on the call.
Fans can also listen to Tennessee’s official radio broadcast on the Vol Network (WIVK-FM 107.7) and satellite radio (XM Ch. 380, Internet Ch. 969). Bob Kesling (PxP), Tim Priest (analyst) and Brent Hubbs (analyst) will call the action all season long.
Fans can listen to the official Vol Network broadcast at the game on FM 101.7.
Need to Know
Trey Smith Leads Coat Drive
Junior O-lineman Trey Smith is leading the charge for the 34th annual Coats for the Cold Drive, which ends on Nov. 9. Smith, who spearheaded the Vols efforts in 2018, was able to help get 1,000 coats donated last season to the Knoxville Area Rescue Ministry (KARM). To donate, go to KARM.org to find the nearest drop off center.
Vols Continue to Earn Weekly Recognition
Tennessee was represented for the second consecutive week on the conference’s weekly award list, this time with sophomore CB Bryce Thompson picking up the SEC Defensive Player of the Week award after his school-record-tying three-interception performance against UAB. The awards kept coming for Thompson who was recognized nationally as the Bednarik Award Player of the Week.
Junior K Brent Cimaglia also was named one of the Lou Groza Place-Kicker Award “Stars of the Week.” Cimaglia, who leads the SEC in field goals (18) and field goal percentage (90.0), was also named one of 20 semifinalists for the Lou Groza Award on Thursday.
Thompson and freshman LB Henry To’o To’o also picked up PFF College National Team of the Week nods, while five total Vols including the aforementioned were among the PFF College SEC Team of the Week. The others were freshman S Jaylen McCollough, redshirt senior OLB Darrell Taylor and redshirt senior WR Jauan Jennings.
Jennings leads the nation in missed tackles forced by a wide receiver (21).
Thompson Turns Up
Defensive back Bryce Thompson impressed in UT’s Homecoming victory over UAB with a defensive performance for the books. The sophomore picked off three passes in the decisive 30-7 win over the Blazers, tying the program record for single-game interceptions. The Irmo, S.C. native’s output was the most by a Vol since 1999 and led a defensive effort that held UAB to only 237 tards of total offense.
Thompson’s performance did not go unnoticed as he earned national recognition as the Bednarik Award Player of the Week after also nabbing the SEC Defensive Player of the Week honor. He also found a spot on the PFF College National Defensive Team of the Week.
The Vols lead the SEC and rank third nationally with 13 interceptions through nine games, already surpassing their total from 2018 (nine).
Kicker Brent Cimaglia leads the SEC and is tied for third in the nation with 18 field goals made, while his 90.0 field goal percentage (18-of-20) leads the SEC. He drilled a career-long 53-yarder against UAB and is a remarkable 8-of-9 on field goals from 40 yards or longer in 2019.
Cimaglia was named one of the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award “Stars of the Week” for his perfect 3-for-3 field goal performance against the Blazers as he added 12 points for the Vols.
The Nashville native scored UT’s first nine points against the Blazers, nailing kicks from 36, 48 and 53 yards out.
Jennings Continues Climbing in Records
Jauan Jennings continues to climb the program ledger. The redshirt senior wideout has recorded at least one touchdown in each of the Vols’ previous three outings and has racked up significant yardage while doing it. The Murfreesboro, Tenn., native currently ranks sixth in total receptions, ninth in career receiving yards (1,906), and is tied for ninth with 17 touchdown receptions. He leads the Vols with eight touchdowns, his most recent trip to the endzone was on a 2-yard push, the first rushing TD of his career, and also paces UT with 722 receiving yards and 47 receptions.
In week eight, Jennings was named the league’s Co-Offensive Player of the Week after scoring a pair of touchdowns and tallying 174 receiving yards against South Carolina. His yardage against the Gamecocks was the most by a Tennessee player since 2012 and the most in an SEC game since 2010. He also became the first Vol to amass more than 150 yards receiving and two touchdowns against and SEC opponent since Donté Stallworth had 169 yards and three receptions at Kentucky on Nov. 17, 2001.
Taylor’s Hunting for Quarterbacks
UT linebacker Darrell Taylor is prepared for a repeat performance headed into Kentucky on Saturday. A season ago, the Hopewell, Va., native smothered the Wildcats quarterback with four sacks, becoming only the third player in Tennessee history to do so along with Reggie White and Corey Miller.
The redshirt senior had combined for three sacks in the Vols last two outings, and ranks second in the SEC among active players with 17 career sacks.
Through nine games, he’s accumulated six sacks, seven tackles for loss, 33 tackles, three quarterback hurries, four pass break ups, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Vols lead series, 80-25-9
The Vols-Wildcats series is the program’s longest standing matchup dating back to 1893. Saturday’s contest will mark the 115th iteration with UT holding an 80-25-9 advantage in the series. Tennessee has beaten Kentucky more than any other team and is 37-15-3 record in Lexington.
Last time out, led by linebacker Darrell Taylor’s four-sack performance, the Vols routed No. 11 Kentucky, 24-7 on Nov. 10, 2018 in one of the top victories of Jeremy Pruitt’s inaugural season.
Despite having a significant edge in the all-time series, the Vols look for their first victory at Kroger Field since 2015. In its last visit to the Bluegrass State in 2017, the Orange and White were bolstered by four fumble recoveries and running back Ty Chandler’s 120-yard rushing and two-touchdown performance, but ultimately fell 29-26.
Kentucky (4-4, 2-4 SEC) is coming off of its second bye week of the season and the contest with UT closes a two-game homestand for the Wildcats.
Led by head coach Mark Stoops, now in his seventh season, UK will return to the field for the first time since a lopsided 29-7 home victory against Missouri and has just one loss at home this season. Under Stoops, Kentucky holds a 40-43 record, and has either matched or exceeded the win total from its previous season.
UK has also allowed 24 points or less in 20 of its last 23 games and is tied for first in the FBS for fewest passing touchdowns allowed (four) while being explosive on the other side of the ball. The Wildcats rank sixth in the FBS and second in the SEC, for running plays of at least 20 yards (23).
A large part of their success on the ground is credited to converted junior quarterback Lynn Bowden, Jr., who shifted to play-caller from wide receiver for the past three contests due to injuries. A two-time SEC Offensive Player of the Week recipient, Bowden amassed 196 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns against Arkansas and 204 ground yards and two touchdowns against Missouri, both UK victories.
Bowden, along with classmate Max Duffy, a punter, were named Midseason All-Americans by the Associated Press and ESPN. Duffy ranks second nationally in punting at 48.8 yards per punt and won the Ray Guy Award Punter of the Week in week five and week nine after surpassing his average on both occasions.