5’11” 213 pounds
As mentioned early, Kentucky has an elite pass defense. What they don’t have, though, is a rock solid defensive line. However, it’s not horrible, and although the Vols have a line of scrimmage advantage on both sides of the ball, their run blocking vs. Kentucky’s run defense is where they would be most evenly matched there.
Because of that, the success up front will come down to Jabari Small. A power running back with good vision who holds onto the ball is key for Tennessee football in this one, and that’s exactly what Small brings to the table. Although he is only averaging four and a half yards a carry, many of those yards are hard-fought conversions on the goal-line or 3rd and 1.
That’s why Small has 89 carries for 397 yards and eight touchdowns. He also has nine catches for 78 yards and another touchdown. This is the type of game in which Small will be used a good bit between the 20s as well, as he could help the Vols control the flow of the game.
Kentucky, as we mentioned, likes to dictate tempo, which could limit the Vols’ big play opportunities. Small could come in and neutralize that. The Wildcats have allowed multiple 100-yard rushers too, including in both of their losses, so Small’s play will be key.