When you look at how the Kentucky Wildcats are built, they have a unique way of winning games. Mark Stoops relies on elite talent in the backfield for his offense, and then he uses an elite secondary to slow down the game and limit possessions. That’s a difficult style for Tennessee football to navigate given how they’re built.
Last year, the Vols were able to rely on big plays early and a pick-six in the second half to score a signature win at UK. This year, in Neyland, they hope to coast to an easier victory. Whether or not they can do that or even win at all depends on how they handle skill players for UK.
Kentucky puts elite players at positions that allows it to simplify the game and allow them to change things going forward. Will that slow down Josh Heupel’s program? Who must the Vols keep an eye on to make sure that doesn’t happen? Here are the five Kentucky Wildcats that Tennessee football needs to watch for Saturday.
The Tennessee football Volunteers must keep an eye on these UK players Saturday.
6’0″ 194 pounds
By far the most successful part of Kentucky is their pass defense, and Carrington Valentine is a huge part of that. One of Kentucky’s elite cornerbacks, Valentine actually has a good bit of experience defending the Vols. It didn’t go well, as Hendon Hooker was able to throw it all over the field, including two early touchdown passes.
However, Valentine does have experience being successful against the Vols. He had a key pass deflection against them in the end zone as a freshman in 2020 then they beat Rocky Top 34-7, and he’s only gotten better since then. This year, he could be dangerous against them.
So far, Valentine has one interception and a team-leading seven pass deflections. He also has a sack and 24 total tackles, 19 of which are solo. If Tennessee football is to get its passing game going, which will be crucial to win this game, the Vols will have to account for him at all times. Valentine could pose a real threat to them.