By Dr. John Huang
(KNOXVILLE, Tn.) – What did you expect in 2020? Kentucky’s 34-7 annihilation of No. 18 Tennessee proves that anything can happen during this Covid ravaged season. The Wildcats hadn’t won in Knoxville since 1984, but thanks to three straight interceptions—two of them pick 6s—Kentucky was able to escape the Neyland house of horrors with the most unlikely of wins imaginable.
I still don’t believe what I just saw. That defensive sequence in the 2nd quarter left many long-time UK fans with jaws agape. First it was Kelvin Joseph, aka Bossman Fat, taking it 41 yards to the house for a 7-0 lead. On the very next possession, Jamin Davis picked off a Jarrett Guarantano pass and rumbled 85 yards for a second straight pick 6. Tyrell Ajian completed the interception hat trick on the ensuing possession leading to Matt Ruffolo’s 30-yd field goal and a 17-0 Kentucky lead.
They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Give Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops credit. He changed things up a little in preparation for his team’s annual whoopin’ on Rocky Top. A surprise practice session in Williamsburg on the way down to Knoxville was evidently just what the doctor ordered.
“I don’t like my team inheriting 20-30 years of history,” Stoops said afterwards.
History be damned! After a one-week hiatus, the Kentucky offense finally showed signs of life. An 11-play, 76-yard statement drive on their first possession of the 2nd half took 5:49 off the clock. Terry Wilson’s one-yard TD pass to Allen Dailey Jr. staked the Wildcats to a 24-7 lead. The much-maligned Wilson was nearly perfect on the afternoon completing 12 of 15 passes for 101 yards and a touchdown.
The Big Blue Wall finally lived up to expectations as the 2nd half saw a steady diet of ground and pound. Chris Rodriguez, running “angry” as usual, punished the Volunteer defense for 73 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown.
After four games, we’re finally getting a feel for this football team. The defense is as stout as advertised. The offense needs some additional tweaks but appears more than serviceable. For wont of a missed extra point, Kentucky could be really sitting pretty. As it is, the flip flop between the upcoming Georgia and Missouri games may work to their great advantage. Take down the Tigers on the road next week, and Kroger Field may be ripe for a Halloween upset of Georgia.
But that’s looking way too far ahead.
“We have to stay hungry,” Stoops said afterwards. “We have to get back to work.”
Can we all just enjoy this one for now? A once-in-a-lifetime win needs to be savored. It may be 2020–but it’s definitely time to party like it’s 1984!
Dr. John Huang is a columnist for Nolan Group Media. His new book, CUT TO THE CHASE, is now available on Amazon. If you enjoy his writing, you can follow him on Twitter @KYHuangs.