LEXINGTON -Once Kentucky beat Tennessee 10-7 Saturday to end a 26-year losing streak to the Vols, UK¿linebackers coach Chuck Smith was as giddy as any player or fan that stormed the field. He smiled as he congratulated and hugged both players and fans.
Here’s what the former Boyle County coach had to say after the game:
Question: How good does it feel to finally get a win over Tennessee?
Smith: “It was the craziest, most ridiculous streak and it feels so good to get that off your back. I got one as a player (in 1977). It has been so long since we beat Tennessee. It shouldn’t be that way and was just ridiculous, but these guys ... you have to be so happy for these seniors. I¿have three senior linebackers (Danny Trevathan, Winston Guy and Ronnie Sneed) and I¿am so happy for them to be able to end their career with a win over Tennessee.
“I was telling Ronnie after the game that everybody always remembers their last game. It’s always great to remember a win.”
Question: How proud are of you of the way those three senior linebackers played to help UK¿win?
Smith: “You can’t put it in words. I was telling them after the game I didn’t want to say too much because I was getting ready to choke up. Those guys are special. We have been together four or five years and you just hate to see them go. They were not going to be denied. That is the way you felt on the sideline. We weren’t going to lose this game if those guys had anything to do with it.”
Question: Are sophomore Avery Williamson and freshman Alvin Dupree ready to step into starring roles next year as you hoped they would be able to, especially after the way they played against Tennessee?
Smith: “Alvin just took advantage of Ridge’s unfortunate injury and really came into his own. He’s just a true freshman learning what to do, but he has gotten all the potential in the world and can be a great, great player. He will be a superstar, no question. Avery just keeps getting better, too. But it’s going to be hard to replace those seniors. They played so long and started so long and have so much experience. But you know what. Every year somebody else steps up and that is what we are counting on with some young guys, but it doesn’t change the fact that we are going to miss those guys.”
Question: Could the defense have played any better against Tennessee?
Smith: “I don’t know. They played awfully well. They played with so much heart and determination. You could just feel it on the sideline. I know you could feel it in the stands, too, but you could just feel it the whole game. We talked all week about how our offense was going to attack them and what it would mean to us and what our part would be. It was all part of the game plan.”
Question: What lies ahead in the next week or so?
Smith: “We hit the recruiting trail and get back in the weight room when they come back from Christmas break and get bigger and stronger.”
Question: With rumors that coach Joker Phillips could make staff changes again, does that change anything for you?
Smith: “I haven’t heard a lot. I just want to enjoy this right now. I am just planning on going on recruiting and go from there.”
Question: So any rumors out there are just rumors at this stage?
Smith: “As far as I know, yes.”
Question: Does this win change things for this program?
Smith: “It was such a cursed streak that it has to change something.¿It really does. It was something that was going to happen. Everybody knew it was going to happen.¿I am just glad I was part of it.”