Here’s who’s responsible for the Tennessee football Volunteers’ loss to the Wildcats.
In one of its worst losses in years, Tennessee football spotted the Kentucky Wildcats a 17-0 lead through a series of big plays in the first half. Fans and coaches would trace everything that happened there to just a few mistakes.
However, when the second half came around, UK just dominated the Vols. They scored two touchdowns and a field goal on their first three offensive drives that half, they didn’t punt, and they only allowed one UT first down until its final offensive drive that day.
Simply put, it was a horrendous performance. There is plenty of blame to go around, but a couple of people clearly stand out more than anybody else. This is our blame pie for Tennessee football’s 34-7 loss to the Kentucky Wildcats.
Jarrett Guarantano: 45 percent
Yes, Jarrett Guarantano gets the most blame. We gave play-calling and coaching horrible grades, but those would have been overcome by Guarantano. The fact is Guarantano went rogue on his fumble, Tennessee football’s first turnover, trying to throw a quick pass on a designed run.
After going rogue, Guarantano threw his two pick-sixes. So he spotted UK 14 points, and cost the Vols three, maybe even seven. Even when he settled down, he missed an easy throw on the Vols’ final offensive drive of the first half, when they were down 17-7. That could have put UT in position to make it a one-score game. Simply put, the giant hole dug falls on Guarantano.
Edge blockers: 15 percent
Guarantano’s mistakes were inexcusable, but the offensive tackles and tight ends killed multiple drives. On the opening drive, UT had a third and manageable at the Kentucky 31. Then Darnell Wright whiffed on a block, resulting in Guarantano getting sacked. Later in the first half, Wanya Morris and Princeton Fant had a chop-block that set up the interception to spot UK its 17-0 lead.
In the second half, it got worse. Morris missed a block that allowed Guarantano to be sacked, killing a drive the Vols desperately needed when trailing 24-7. Then K’Rojhn Calbert came in and missed on a block, forcing Guarantano to do a quick dump-off that didn’t work. Simply put, Guarantano gets blame, but the outside blockers were a mess as well.
Safeties and inside linebackers: 10 percent
What got the Kentucky Wildcats going on offense was their ability to stretch the field with their passing attack. They completed 13 of 16 passes. Well, most of them were to slot guys over the middle, an issue for the Vols all year. That was enough to allow them to take control. However, they played solid in the first half and were only in that position because of the offensive mistakes.
JT Shrout: 5 percent
Yes, a JT Shrout interception spotted Kentucky another field goal to give them the 17-point lead. But as we already mentioned, that was a desperate throw after the chop-block. It wasn’t a pick-six, and Shrout was set up to fail. As a result, we don’t blame him too much.
Receivers: 5 percent
Princeton Fant’s mistake also counts as a receiver mistake. The unit as a whole failed to get separation throughout the day as well. Finally, Ramel Keyton had a personal foul penalty that killed another drive when the Vols were still in it. So yes, these guys aren’t blameless.
Defensive line: 5 percent
After Kentucky began to stretch apart Tennessee football’s defense, more pressure fell on the defensive line in the second half. That unit failed. The Wildcats’ offensive line was superb blocking all day, and as a result, we have to dish out blame to this group.
Paxton Brooks: 5 percent
Honestly, Paxton Brooks was one of the worst performers with his punting, giving Kentucky great field position all day as only one of his punts went beyond 40 yards. However, his mistakes didn’t prove too costly. Too many other horrendous things happened.
Jeremy Pruitt: 5 percent
We’re not just talking about not preparing the guys to play. Jeremy Pruitt didn’t trust Brent Cimaglia on a long field goal on the first drive. He then punted on a 4th and 2 and 4th and 1 on back to back offensive drives. Bringing in Shrout ice cold for a drive caused an interception. He made far too many mistakes, but again, other issues were so much greater.
Jim Chaney: 5 percent
Not only did Jim Chaney abandon the run game far too early, but he also dialed up a desperation deep pass with Shrout in the game when he wasn’t ready. That’s enough for us to give him some blame as well.
As you can see, plenty of people failed Tennessee football in this outing. Yes, the horrendous quarterback play was the overwhelming worst part of it. However, tons of groups and individual players and coaches messed up far too much.