UT running game vs. WKU rush defense
Operating in a 4-3 base defense,Western Kentucky allowed 216 yards on 32 carries and two rushing touchdowns in last Saturday’s win over Kentucky. The Wildcats utilized the running ability of quarterback Jalen Whitlow (75 yards), something Tennessee doesn’t offer, but the Vols will still view WKU’s rush defense as an area to exploit. UT tallied 207 of its 315 rushing yards against Austin Peay in the first half before coach Butch Jones pulled his nationally renowned offensive line off the field.
Brendan Doughty vs. Justin Worley
Doughty (27-34, 271 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT against Kentucky) is making his third career start, while Worley (11-13, 104 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INT against Austin Peay) is making his fifth career start. Both fared well leading new offensive systems in their respective season openers. Doughty will be working against a UT secondary filled with questions marks, but will do so with a young group of wideouts but solid pass-catching tight ends.
UT RB Rajion Neal
The junior amassed 142 yards on 16 carries and reeled off a 47-yard touchdown run against Austin Peay despite not playing the second half. Neal is the Vols’ clear No. 1 running back at this point, having been on the field for 26 first-half plays. Fellow running back Marlin Lane was on the field for 16 snaps in the first half.
WKU MLB Andrew Jackson
The senior is on both the 2013 Bronko Nagurski Award watch list and the Bednarik Award watch list, which are each presented to the nation’s top defensive player at season’s end. Jackson, who is 6-foot-1, 257 pounds and wears No. 4, is coming off back-to-back 100-plus tackle seasons. The senior registered eight tackles last weekend, including one for a loss, and broke up one pass. NFL.com senior draft analyst Gil Brandt ranks Jackson as the No. 80 senior prospect in the nation.
WKU WR Willie McNeal
The Hilltoppers’ lone experienced wideout caught six passes for 57 against Kentucky, but also dropped three passes, including a would-be 71-yard touchdown catch. WKU survived the blunders last weekend, but in order to pull off a major upset over Tennessee, there will be no room for error. McNeal, a 5-10 redshirt junior, has 75 career receptions for 973 yards and eight touchdowns.
BY THE NUMBERS
0 Penalties called on Tennessee in the win over Austin Peay.
1 With Devrin Young (wrist) out of the lineup, only one UT player, Marlin Lane, has ever registered a punt return in a live college game. Lane fielded seven punts as a freshman in 2011.
5 Bobby Petrino’s .745 winning percentage (76-26) ranks fifth among active coaches with nine years of experience or more.
62-5 Petrino’s record when his team scores 30 or more points
9 Consecutive wins by UT in non-conference home games.
83 Total yards gained by WKU in UT’s 63-7 win over the Hilltoppers in 2009.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
UT OL coach Don Mahoney @UTCoachMahoney)
“Thanks Rocky Top. The Vol Walk, stadium atmosphere and being apart of Tennessee’s 800th win will go down as being unforgettable! #GoVols”
Tennessee 35, Western Kentucky 27
WKU brings a strong offensive line, quality running backs and a nice mix of linebackers and defensive backs. Look for the Vols to control much of the game, but never pull away for a rout.