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The Game Plan: Joker Phillips' keys to the game (Tennessee)

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Gameday Information
Game Notes UK Notes Get Acrobat Reader | UK Depth Chart Get Acrobat Reader
UT Notes Get Acrobat Reader | UT Depth Chart Get Acrobat Reader
Date & Time Saturday, Nov. 27
12:21 p.m
Coverage TV: SEC Network
Radio: BBSN
Online Audio listen
Online Video via ESPN3
Live Blog
Location Neyland Stadium
Knoxville, Tenn.
Gameday Information
Tennessee Volunteers at a Glance
Head Coach Derek Dooley
Record at School 5-6 (First season)
Record 5-6, 2-5 SEC
Ranking NR
Series Record Tennessee leads 73-23-9
Last Meeting Tennessee defeated Kentucky 30-24 in overtime in Lexington, Ky. last season.
2010 Team Stats UK UT
Rushing Offense 167.2 119.7
Passing Offense 274.6 240.3
Total Offense 441.6 360.0
Scoring Offense 34.7 27.3
Rushing Defense 178.6 155.8
Passing Defense 168.4 225.4
Total Defense 347.0 381.2
Scoring Defense 28.9 25.6
Turnover Margin -0.27 +0.36
2010 Stat Leaders
Rushing UK: Derrick Locke (130 rushes, 719 yds, 9 TDs)
UT: Tauren Poole (176 rushes, 935 yds, 10 TDs)
Passing UK: Mike Hartline (237-361, 2906 yds, 22 TDs, 8 INTs)
UT: Matt Simms (113-195, 1460 yds, 8 TDs, 5 INTs)
Receiving UK: Randall Cobb (66 catches, 839 yds, 7 TDs)
UT: Denarius Moore (36 catches, 707 yds, 8 TDs)
Tackles UK: Danny Trevathan (120 total, 15.0 for loss)
UT: Nick Reveiz (86 total, 6.0 for loss)
Sacks UK: Luke McDermott, Danny Trevathan (3.0)
UT: Malik Jackson (5.0)
Interceptions UK: Winston Guy Jr. (2)
UT: Janzen Jackson, Prentiss Waggner (4)

Each and every week prior to a Kentucky football game, Cat Scratches will talk with head coach Joker Phillips about his of plan of attack. Without giving away too much of the game plan, Phillips will tell us his keys to the game, a key matchup and who Kentucky has to look out for on the opposing team.

Offensive keys - Get off to a fast start: "We've got to play fast from the first snap. If we play like we've been playing in the first half, we could be down too much and not be able to fight back. That's one thing we don't want to do. We want to try to match their intensity. They have a lot to play for and so do we. We need to definitely get off to a fast start to match their intensity. If we don't we could be down 21 points the way they're scoring points. Their defense is playing a lot faster because they're going out on the field with leads. Their offense is scoring a lot of points and their special teams has scored some points, so they're getting out on the field with confidence and the lead. When you go on the field for the first time and it's 7-0, you go out there a second time and it's 14-0 and then you go out there and it's 21-0, I think that gives your defense a lot of confidence."

Cat Scratches' take: Maybe the single biggest problem for the UK football team this year has been its slow starts. If Kentucky played like it has in the second half of games all season long, we could be talking about an eight- or nine-win team at this point. When the Cats lead after the first quarter, they are a perfect 4-0. UK is 1-4 when the opponent leads after the first quarter and 2-5 after halftime. Last time out, Kentucky allowed 242 first-half yards to a struggling Vanderbilt offense. In the second half, the Commodores totaled just 158 yards. The Cats cannot afford to get behind big to a Tennessee team averaging 42.0 points per game over the last three contests.

Defensive keys - Hit young QB early, slow down hot UT passing game: "We've got to try to disrupt their quarterback. We've got to give him a lot of different looks and get in his face as often as we possibly can. Defensively, we've just got to keep them in front of us. We can't let them get behind us. One thing that they've been doing is they have been throwing the ball really well. They have created a lot of down-the-field throws so we've got to keep them in front of us. They have four really good receivers, two young ones and two old ones, and their quarterback has a hot hand right now. We've just got to keep them in front of us and stop the run because their run game in recent weeks has helped open up the passing game."

Cat Scratches' take: The promotion of freshman quarterback Tyler Bray to full-time starter has really provided a spark in turning the season around for the Vols. Over his last three games, Bray has thrown for 880 yards and 10 touchdowns, including five scores against Memphis. Tennessee has relied heavily on the passing game the last few weeks because of Bray's ability to get the ball out of his hands quickly and let his receivers make plays. Phillips hopes to mix up some looks to confuse the first-year gunslinger.    

Key matchup - Healthier Derrick Locke vs. Tennessee run defense: "Our running game opens up a lot with Derrick Locke. There was a three-game stretch where we weren't able to run the ball as efficiently with Locke out. All that did was open up our passing game and a chance for Randall Cobb to run the ball in the Wildcat because now you've got Derrick Locke coming across in the speed sweep and we have the ability to hand the ball to him. That takes another guy out of the defensive front and it allows Randall to run the ball in the Wildcat formation."

Cat Scratches' take: Locke wasn't 100 percent in his return from a four-week injury absence, but his presence alone was enough to boost a running game that had severely tripped up without him. With Locke in the backfield, UK pounded Vanderbilt for 341 yards on the ground. Cobb was the biggest beneficiary of Locke's presence, running for a career-high 170 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries. Tennessee is giving up 155.8 rushing yards per game, ninth in the league. 

Joker's additional factor - Playing on the emotions of The Streak: "Football is a game of emotions. You have to play on them. You have to use anything you possibly can to get emotionally involved in the game. That's one of the things we've got to use to get emotionally into this game."

Cat Scratches' take: Phillips hasn't exactly opened up about what he's said to his team about the 25-game losing streak to Tennessee, but all indication are it's been brought up. From the "517" number plastered in the lobby of the Nutter Training Facility to the "Beat Tennessee" stickers, the Kentucky players are using the notorious streak as motivation. Cobb, an emotional player and Tennessee native who, just two weeks ago talked exuberantly about playing Tennessee, has been mum this week on how important beating Tennessee would be. He and the Cats are ready for their play to do the talking.

Tennessee player to watch for - defensive back Janzen Jackson: "Janzen Jackson is a really good player in their secondary. The (Chris) Walker kid at the defensive line and then Nick Reveiz at linebacker are both great players that are playing really good lately. They have a guy at every level that you have to account for. Jackson is just so long and physical and rangy. He's a guy that can cover a lot of ground."

Cat Scratches' take: Jackson does a little bit of everything. He's third on the team with 54 tackles, has three tackles for a loss, four pass breakups and four interceptions. If Jackson picks off a Mike Hartline pass, watch out because Jackson has the ability to return one for six. Walker has five tackles for a loss and two sacks, and Reveiz is ninth in the Southeastern Conference with 86 stops.

Final injury report: The bye week has helped heal the Cats. Wide receiver Brian Adams, who was doubtful earlier in the week with a hamstring injury, appears to be good to go for Saturday. Linebacker Qua Huzzie is questionable (shoulder). Defensive lineman Nermin Delic is likely out with a shoulder injury. 

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