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Kentucky Reflects on 2022 Tennessee Football Loss at SEC Media Days

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Tennessee football rolled out into the “dark mode” uniforms on Oct. 29 to defeat Kentucky 44-6 in 2022. The game never felt close, and Kentucky quarterback Will Levis was held to under 100 yards.

The loss, according to the Wildcats, began at the beginning of that week.

“We were always trying to focus consistency and punching the clock every week and things like that,” Kentucky defensive lineman Octavious Oxendine said. “I feel like that week we just weren’t as focused as we should’ve been. We should’ve been way more focused, we should have had way more stuff in line for them, things like that. Just all around, everybody gives their best, it happens to everybody. We’ll see what happens this year.”

Physicality and consistency were two things that Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops preached during his time at SEC Media Days. Consistency, the word of the year for the Wildcats, was echoed by players as well on Wednesday.

The game with the Vols is circled for Kentucky. Not only is it an SEC game, it’s a game both sides consider to have a thriving rivalry.

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“That last year they got us on their good run,” outside linebacker J.J. Weaver said. “Mentally, we weren’t ready. We were going through a lot that season. We weren’t really consistent. That’s the big word we’re using this year, consistent in everything we do. So, we’r ready, I’m excited for that game. I’m excited for all the games this year.”

There’s a changing of the guard for Tennessee in 2023. It will no longer be Hendon Hooker throwing the ball for the Vols, but Joe Milton instead.

Hooker had his fair share of success in 2022 against the Wildcats. In Neyland Stadium, Hooker went for 245 yards on 19-of-25 passing. He threw three touchdowns on the night.

On the other side, Levis struggled. Now a Tennessee Titan, Levis threw for 98 yards and three picks on 16-of-27 passing. Not the best numbers from Levis, but he is in the NFL now. The Wildcats will have to find a new quarterback as well.

The game will not look like it did in 2022, or at least the Wildcats hope not.

“I’m looking forward to the game itself,” Oxendine added. “We punch the clock on the week and try to focus on the team we have that week. But honestly, that’s one of the games that nobody looks around. It’s an SEC game, a rivalry game, so everybody thinks about it. It’s just when we get to that week, we need to be locked in for that week.”

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