Both the Vols (4-5) and the Wildcats (4-5) are two wins away from bowl eligibility making this a matchup with plenty on the line.
Here are the three keys.
By Steve Wright
Make Lynn Bowden throw the ball
Lynn Bowden is limited as a passer. His best passing performance this season was 7-of-11 for 78 yards and a score against Arkansas, also known as what a player like Tua Tagovailoa is able to put together in the first quarter of an Alabama game. What Bowden does well though – and very well at that – is run the ball in a way unlike any other quarterback at a Power 5 program.
He has rushed for 499 yards on 62 attempts. That is over eight yards per carry. In two of his games he has rushed for over 200 yards, while he kept Kentucky in the game for nearly three quarters against a vastly more talented Georgia team.
Bowden is a threat running the ball. If Tennessee lets him get any pockets of space he will hurt them with his ability to make defenders miss in the open field. Making Bowden throw the ball is the way to stop his attack.
Attack the back end of the Kentucky D
The front seven defensively has been the building block that Kentucky has built off of this season. Calvin Taylor Jr. has been the kind of monster you would expect at 6-foot-9 and well over 300 pounds. He has five sacks, a pair of forced fumbles and sick TFLs on the season. He is a super athlete for a man of his size.
This defensive performance only gets better if the Wildcats will also have Kash Daniel back at linebacker this weekend after missing a couple of games. The secondary, though, has been vulnerable because of its youth. They are efficient, but they don’t make huge plays with only three interceptions on the season. The downfield passing game can work here.
What is the QB plan
It sounds at the moment like the Vols could literally play all three scholarship quarterbacks at some point this Saturday against Kentucky. Jarrett Guarantano, Brian Maurer and JT Shrout have all started games for Tennessee this season, with Jeremy Pruitt seemingly liking some aspects that each brings to the table in certain situations.
Whatever Pruitt decides to do at quarterback there has to be some kind of actual plan. Throwing a player in and giving him the quick hook does nothing for confidence, so the coach needs to be straight with his players and let them know what to expect this weekend.