It has been 26 years since the Kentucky Wildcats have snagged a win over the Tennessee Volunteers, but this year the two teams may be more alike than you think.
Both teams littered with youth and plagued by injury — this game could be more interesting than in years past.
“They have had their struggles on offense a little bit like we have,” Derek Dooley said Tuesday. “I think in some ways they are in a similar situation. They have got some injuries at running back and that has set them back. Of course they lost their three best football players who were veterans last year, so they have some youth at some positions. In many ways they are like us.”
One place where the Wildcats have excelled is on the defensive side of the football. Led by Danny Trevathan, the Cats were able to hold the Georgia Bulldogs to just 19 points last Saturday in a close loss.
“What they have shown in a defense that held Georgia to one touchdown and they are capable of shutting us out,” Dooley said. “We are going to have our hands full.”
Right now Dooley is still trying to gauge the health of his sophomore-star quarterback Tyler Bray as he continues to recover from a broken thumb injury.
“We have to keep managing him,” Dooley said. “He isn’t even close to 100 percent. One week doesn’t get that thumb back to where it was and it showed today. He was really rusty. He doesn’t throw the way he will when it is 100 percent. We have to keep managing it, keep warming it up properly, stretching it and rehabbing it.”
While Bray’s injury has been a problem for weeks, as the season comes to a close some players are hurting more than others and unfortunately it seems to be in just one position group — the secondary. Both Brian Randolph (concussion) and Prentiss Waggner (shoulder) went down in the Vols will over Vanderbilt in week 11.
“The way we structure practice (the backups) get a lot of reps,” Dooley said. “We are repping Prentiss and Brian, we have to, we need them and hope they will play, but we are also getting good work out of the backups.”
Both Waggner and Randolph were wearing green non-contact jerseys during Tuesday’s practice and Waggner said he was still feeling the hit from Saturday night’s game.
“Today it was a little sore,” Waggner said. “I am about to head to the training room and get it worked on. Hopefully by Saturday the pain will have gone away. I feel pretty confident that I am going to be ready to play Saturday.”
And based on what Waggner said about Randolph's demeanor on the sideline during the Vandy game there is no doubt that he is still very questionable for the Vols matchup with Kentucky.
“I was laughing at Brian Randolph today because guys on the team told me that when he came to the sideline he asked how did he hit Trent Richardson and Izauea Lanier told him ‘hey dog we not even playing Alabama this week,’” Waggner said.
Waggner, Randolph and the Volunteers will continue their preparations for their road trip to Kentucky Wednesay morning at 9.
Watch Derek Dooley’s comments following Tuesday’s practice below: