The three year tenure of Joker Phillips came to a close today as the Tyler Bray led Tennessee Volunteers defeated Kentucky 37-17 in Knoxville. It was a scenario all too familiar with Kentucky’s team this season; lack of an effective defense. Tyler Bray torched the Wildcat’s today, throwing for 293 yards on 34 attempts (8.6 yards per attempt). In addition to his gaudy totals he tossed 4 touchdown passes with zero interceptions. The defense wasn’t better in terms of stopping the rush either. The Volunteer running backs, Raijon Neal and Marlin Lane, were able to run for 75 and 53 yards respectively while doing so on 19 combined attempts. While those two didn’t score in the season finale, short yardage back, A. J. Johnson, was able to punch in a two yard attempt for the Vols’ only rushing touchdown of the day. To sum it up in one sentence: the Volunteers had their way with a thin Kentucky defense today.
Offense for Kentucky was a somewhat different story. The Cats were able to log 412 total yards and score two touchdowns. The passing game had sputtered all season long due to injuries, but Jalen Whitlow was able guide the offense downfield, completing 29 of 45 passes for 225 yards. He was able to connect to Darrell Warren midway through the first quarter on a 1 yard pass to tie the game at 7-7. Later in the second quarter, Jonathan George was able to break off a 45 yard run which put the score at 14-20 in favor of the Volunteers. But, later in the quarter, Craig McIntosh missed a 38 yard field goal attempt which would have put the Wildcats down three entering half time. However, McIntosh kicked a field goal early in the second half to make up for his earlier miss, cutting the deficit to three points. But, from then on it was all Vols. Even though Kentucky had opportunities to swing the outcome on multiple short yardage fourth downs, mystifying play calling prevented us from having any shot at a comeback. Tennessee went on to score the next 17 points putting the game thoroughly out of reach for Joker’s Cats.
Kentucky finished the 2012 campaign with a 2-10 record (0-8 in conference). All that remains of Phillips’ long association with the University of Kentucky are the questions of where do we go from here? Who will be the next head coach? How will recruits react to the release of Joker Phillips? How many of the current players will stay or transfer? These are answers that only time can bring about, but as it stands right now, they’re all a mystery at this point in time.