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November 21, 2011

Seniors trying to close disappointing season with win

A sixth-consecutive bowl game is out of the question for Kentucky's seniors. With that streak over, only one goal remains for the Wildcats.

"We still get to end this Tennessee streak," senior linebacker Ronnie Sneed said.

If Sneed sounds confident, it's because he is.

Kentucky (4-7, 1-6 Southeastern Conference) played one of its best defensive games of the season in a 19-10 loss at Georgia. Tennessee (5-6, 1-6 SEC) has struggled mightily this season, giving the Wildcats hope for ending its losing streak against the Volunteers.

Everyone around the Kentucky football program knows about the streak. For 26 years, Kentucky has played Tennessee. For 26 years, the Wildcats have been beaten by the Vols. It's the longest losing streak in the nation among teams that play every year.

Head coach Joker Phillips was still playing wide receiver for Wildcats the last time Kentucky beat the Volunteers, in 1984.

"I'm not going to talk about the streak," Phillips said. "The goal out there is to win our last game. That's why it's important to us."

For all that Kentucky has accomplished in recent years, there hasn't been a senior class in over two decades that can claim a victory over the Vols. With no bowl game left, that's what the Cats are playing for.

"It would be a huge win for the seniors, it would be a huge win for the program," senior cornerback Anthony Mosley said. "It wouldn't necessarily wash away all the disappointment, but it would lessen the blow to have the last game be a win."

Tennessee will have quarterback Tyler Bray, who missed five games with a broken thumb on his right (throwing) hand. Bray led the Volunteers to their first SEC win on Saturday and torched Kentucky for 354 yards as a freshman last season.

The Volunteers have plenty to play for as well. A win would put them in a bowl game to salvage a disappointing season. With most of their own goals out of sight, Kentucky's players would relish the chance to keep their rivals from having the kind of success that has eluded the Wildcats this year.

"It's a really good opportunity to win and also to keep them from some of their goals while achieving ours," Mosley said.

Sneed, a fifth-year senior who has been a part of the program since 2007, said Kentucky's win over South Carolina in 2010 was probably the highlight of his career. That would change with a win over the Vols.

"It would definitely be the new highlight," Sneed said. "We'll be ending a streak and starting a new one. That's definitely something that will put this program in the right direction."

Trevathan honored again

Reporters at Phillips' Monday press conference fell silent when Phillips began the injury report with Danny Trevathan's name. Phillips he paused before announcing the senior linebacker's injury.

"Danny Trevathan chipped his second tooth of the year," Phillips said with a laugh. "I wish we had more guys that chipped their teeth."

To go along with that chipped tooth, Trevathan had 17 tackles, three tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and a sack on Saturday. He earned co-SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors with LSU defensive back Ron Brooks. His 17 tackles tied a career-high. He's had 17 tackles in three of the last four games.

"He's just amazing to watch," Phillips said. "He alone willed the defense to play the way they played Saturday. We continue to tell them to come up to his level, and everyone on defense that tried to play better than they were capable of. I think a lot of that had to do with the way Danny Trevathan played."

Trevathan was also an honorable mention by the College Football Performance Awards at his position for his performance. He was one of five players to earn a helmet sticker from ESPN.com's Chris Low across the league.

"I know what Danny can do," senior linebacker Ronnie Sneed said. "He does it repeatedly. When he has great games, it's just like 'Thanks, man.' He's a great player and we really respect what he does."

With his game on Saturday, Trevathan now has 366 career tackles, 10th on Kentucky's all-time list. With 14 more tackles, he can pass Randy Holleran for sole possession of ninth place on the all-time list. Moving any farther than that is unlikely; he would need an incredible 23 tackles to tie Jerry Blanton for eighth place on the school's all-time list.

Trevathan's chipped tooth won't affect him as he prepares for his final game as a Wildcat. He'll be back at practice on Tuesday and will play on Saturday.

"Hopefully he'll get that (tooth) fixed," Phillips said. "Or maybe he won't. If he keeps getting 17 tackles, he can do what he wants to."

Injury report

Freshman quarterback Maxwell Smith is day-to-day but expected to play on Saturday.

Smith sprained his shoulder late in the game Saturday and did not return, but Phillips said he was hopeful he would be able to play. Smith's right arm was in a sling after the game, but improved dramatically since the game.

"He's working to try to get his range of motion back," Phillips said. "Again, it's a lot better than it was yesterday and a lot better than it was Saturday."

Senior linebacker Winston Guy will practice in a red jersey this week. He only practiced on Thursday last week, but was able to play.

Junior safety Martavius Neloms is no longer wearing a boot for his high ankle sprain and is able to get up on his toes, but he remains doubtful for Saturday's game. True freshman Ashely Lowery made his first career start on Saturday and finished with five tackles in Neloms' place.

Junior linebacker Ridge Wilson's status for Saturday is uncertain. Wilson has missed the last two games with a shoulder injury and was away from the team this weekend due to an illness in his family. He'll be evaluated Tuesday when he returns to the team.

Freshman defensive lineman Christian Coleman bruised his elbow on Saturday. The coaches had worried he might have hyperextended it, but X-rays were negative. He's expected to practice Tuesday.

Freshman linebacker Tim Patterson, who is redshirting, will have surgery on Tuesday to remove a screw in his surgically repaired knee. It was inserted at the end of last fall.


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