Vols' Football Preview: UT Vs. Kentucky

Friday, October 16, 2020
- photo by Tennessee Athletic Communications

No. 18/17 Tennessee will look to bounce back from last weekend's road setback this Saturday when the Vols host longtime SEC East rival Kentucky at Neyland Stadium.

Despite having their SEC-leading eight-game win streak snapped at Georgia, the Vols still carry a five-game home winning streak into Saturday's contest against the Wildcats.

A limited number of tickets for Saturday's game are still available and can be purchased at AllVols.com.

Gates open to the public two hours prior to kickoff at 10 a.m.


Saturday's game will be televised on the SEC Network with Tom Hart (PxP), Jordan Rodgers (analyst) and Cole Cubelic (sideline) on the call. Kickoff for Saturday's contest is slated for noon ET.

Fans can also listen to Tennessee's official radio broadcast on the Vol Network (WIVK-FM 107.7/WNML-FM 99.1) and satellite radio (Sirius Ch. 138, XM Ch. 190, Internet Ch. 961).

Bob Kesling (PxP), Tim Priest (analyst) and Brent Hubbs (analyst) will call the action, with Kasey Funderburg handling sideline duties. The "Kickoff Call-In Show" begins at 10:30 a.m. ET.

John Sadak and Derek Rackley will also call the game for Westwood One national radio.


Gameday Health & Safety Measures
Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, numerous procedures and protocols have been put in place for Tennessee football home games at Neyland Stadium. Relying on the expertise of public health authorities, the state of Tennessee, appropriate university and government agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we are implementing a number of new initiatives on Tennessee football gamedays this fall. The well-being of our student-athletes, fans and staff are our top priorities and guide our decisions.
Stadium capacity will be limited to no more than 25% and capacity will also be limited in all merchandise shops. Merchandise stores and stands will only be accepting credit cards for payment. Cash will not be accepted. 

Face coverings (over the nose and mouth) are required for all guests as they enter, exit and move around Neyland Stadium, as well as any time guests are unable to maintain the recommended physical distance from others who are not in their same household.

Physical distancing measures have been put in place, including physically distanced line queues, marked barriers and social distancing reminders. A significant number of hand washing opportunities, including hand sanitizers and portable hand-washing stations have been added inside Neyland Stadium. Additional cleaning and sanitization measures have been implemented. This includes high touch-point areas being cleaned more frequently and providing additional hand-sanitizing locations.

For a complete overview of this season's health and safety measures, please visit the Tennessee Football Gameday Information page on UTSports.com.

Home Sweet Home
Tennessee returns to Neyland Stadium for the first of back-to-back home contests this Saturday. The Vols have won 17 straight against Kentucky in Neyland Stadium, a streak that dates back to 1986.

Both of UT's home games this season have been noon kickoffs. The Vols host No. 2 Alabama next week at 3:30 p.m. Tennessee has won nine of its last 11 games dating back to last season with the only losses coming to No. 1 Alabama (2019) and No. 3 Georgia (2020).
Protecting Home Field
The Vols carry a five-game home winning streak into Saturday's contest. UT has outscored opponents 154-60 in those five games with all five victories coming in double-digit fashion. The streak began Oct. 12 last season with a 20-10 win over Mississippi State.

Opponents have managed only three touchdowns in the last 14 quarters in Neyland Stadium dating back to the South Carolina game on Oct. 26, 2019 (1 by UAB in 4Q, 1 by Vanderbilt in 4Q, 1 by Missouri in 3Q). The Vols have not surrendered a first-half touchdown in their last three home games. Offensively, UT has put up at least 28 points in its last four home contests. Jeremy Pruitt owns a 10-6 record as a head coach in Neyland Stadium.

Vols in the Polls
Tennessee is ranked for the sixth consecutive week, coming in at No. 17 in the Amway Coaches poll and No. 18 in the Associated Press Top 25. That is the program's longest streak since it opened the 2016 season ranked for eight consecutive weeks.
The Vols opened the season ranked in the AP Top 25 for the 42nd time in their history. That mark ranks 10th all-time nationally and second in the SEC. Including the Oct. 11 poll, Tennessee has made 588 appearances in the AP Top 25, which ranks 14th all-time nationally. UT owns a 2-1 record as a ranked team under Pruitt.
Palmer Shining in Senior Season
One of the biggest question marks entering the 2020 season was how Tennessee would replace the production of departing senior wide receivers Jauan Jennings (San Francisco 49ers) and Marquez Callaway (New Orleans Saints). That question has been answered through three games thanks to the outstanding play of senior Josh Palmer. 
The 6-foot-2 Palmer leads the Vols in catches (14), receiving yards (227) and receiving touchdowns (3). He ranks fifth in the SEC in touchdown catches. Palmer had three touchdowns during his first three seasons combined (2017-19). The Brampton, Ontario, native produced the first multi-touchdown game of his career with two spectacular catches at No. 3 Georgia last Saturday – both coming in the second quarter.
Defensive Touchdowns
UT has already scored two defensive touchdowns this season, which is tied for the SEC and national lead. The Vols are one of seven programs with multiple defensive scores this year, joining Georgia, Texas Tech, Army, Syracuse, Tulane and Wake Forest. Henry To'o To'o had a 32-yard pick six in Week 1 at South Carolina, while Kivon Bennett recovered a fumble in the end zone at Georgia last week.
Tennessee has produced five defensive touchdowns (three pick sixes and two fumble returns) in the Pruitt era:
Date                      Opponent                           Play
10/10/20              at #3 Georgia (L)               Kivon Bennett 0-yard fumble recovery end zone (1Q)
9/26/20                at South Carolina (W)     Henry To'o To'o 32-yard interception return (2Q)
10/20/18              #1 Alabama (L)                 Kyle Phillips 27-yard interception return (3Q)
10/13/18              at #21 Auburn (W)           Alontae Taylor 8-yard fumble recovery (3Q)
9/8/18                 ETSU (W)                             Darrin Kirkland Jr. 33-yard interception return (2Q)
Vols lead series, 81-25-9
The Vols and Wildcats will square off for the 116th time this Saturday. Tennessee's 81 victories over Kentucky are its most against any opponent in program history. The Big Orange have won 17 straight games against the Wildcats inside Neyland Stadium and are 43-10-6 all-time against UK in Knoxville.

UT has won the last two games in the series, including a hard-fought 17-13 win in Lexington last year. Jarrett Guarantano came off the bench to pass for 115 yards and two touchdowns to help the Vols score 17 consecutive points and erase a 13-3 halftime deficit. Tennessee used a goal-line stand on Kentucky's final possession to secure the win.


The Wildcats come into this Saturday's contest following their first win of the season, a 24-2 victory over Mississippi State. Kentucky was dominant defensively, intercepting six passes while holding the Bulldogs' air raid offense to just 295 total yards.
Under the leadership of eighth year head coach Mark Stoops, the Wildcats rely on a stout defense that ranks third in the SEC in scoring defense (24.3 ppg) and fourth in total defense (359.3 ypg). Junior linebacker Jamin Davis leads the team with 23 tackles and has also recorded a sack and an interception.

Offensively, quarterback Terry Wilson is back after missing the final 11 games of 2019 with an injury. Wilson has completed 46 of 75 pass attempts (61.3%) for 463 yards and two touchdowns through three games this season. He also ranks second on the team in rushing with 221 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.


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