Home ENTERTAINMENT UT Vols show resilience in victory over Kentucky

UT Vols show resilience in victory over Kentucky

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LEXINGTON, Ky. – Jeremy Pruitt was wrong about one thing.

He is not a Titanic captain, as Tennessee's coach hinted in a poorly chosen metaphor after talking to the Knoxville quarterback club after losing the first two games of the season.

Tennessee is not sinking. The Vols (5-5, 3-3 SEC) stayed afloat after a miserable start to the season and won their third game in a row with a 17-13 win over Kentucky on Saturday night at Kroger Field.

A resurgent Vols defense closed the Wildcats after halftime, which was partly due to three fourth stops.

"I can not say enough about how proud I am of reliability," said Pruitt after the win.

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The Vols are now in a familiar position. They had an identical record of 10 matches last season before losing to Missouri and Vanderbilt to prevent a bowl bid.

Pruitt made sure to remind his team after the victory.

"That's the first thing that coach Pruitt said to us in the locker room," said linebacker Darrell Taylor. He said, "Last year we were 5: 5 at this time, and we did not make it. "Our biggest goal is to finish this season in the right way."

It would be a surprise if this Tennessee team, who has won four of their last five games, would not complete this season properly.

In particular, the defense of Tennessee has made progress. Not surprisingly, high-ranking midfielder Daniel Bituli took the lead on Saturday with 19 tackles. It is the second time in the last three games that he has had at least 15 tackles.

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Daniel Bituli had 19 tackles in the 17:13 victory in Tennessee on Saturday in Kentucky.
Mike Wilson, USA TODAY. NETWORK – Tennessee

Kentucky shows a unique offensive with the athletic wide receiver Lynn Bowden Jr. at quarterback. It's almost as if you were facing a criminal offense with three options. The Vols seemed puzzled over how they should stop the game during the first run of the game, when Kentucky scored a goal after 75 yards in 17 games.

But the defense improved as the game progressed, as did the 41:21 victory over South Carolina when Tennessee also paused in the second half.

Tennessee ended Kentucky half-way 13-3. Taylor said it was the worst first half we ever played.

That may be a bit tough, but the first half was certainly an unforgettable one. Quarterback Brian Maurer found no rhythm. The running game has gained little grip. A blocked punt put Kentucky on his second score.

The wildcats were in control.

Keyword Jarrett Guarantano.

The Super Submarine Vols launched the second half of the game with a touchdown of 75 meters and seven games. Tennessee followed with a 68-yard run to take the lead, which he would not surrender.

The broad recipients of Tennessee are a team strength that emerged in the third quarter. Marquez Callaway and Josh Palmer each outperformed a defender in the individual game to score a touchdown on faded routes.

Guaranteeano finished the 7-of-8 game for 115 yards.

"He came in with serenity," said Brandon Kennedy.

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Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano completed 7 of 8 passes in the second half.
Mike Wilson, USA TODAY. NETWORK – Tennessee

Guarantano has not started a game since September but was relieved in the last six games. Expect a lot of guarantee against Missouri and Vanderbilt.

Perhaps the biggest surprise on Saturday was that Ja'Quain Blakely, the junior defensive lineman, became a hero when he stopped Bowden without earning a fourth and second place win.

Blakely does not play many snapshots. Before he stopped Bowden, he had eight career tackles. He was on the field in this situation because Tennessee had loaded up the scrap line. Bowden could not escape Blakely with a speed option.

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"I have faith in my defense," Callaway said. "We needed her very much."

Tennessee won, though Kentucky had the ball for almost 70% of the game.

This is a sign of a resilient and not a sign of a sinking team.

Blake Toppmeyer reports on football at the University of Tennessee. Send an e-mail to blake.toppmeyer@knoxnews.com and follow it on Twitter @btoppmeyer, If you benefit from Blake's coverage, consider a digital subscription that gives you access to everything.

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