Can Vols Hang With Alabama?


Can the Vols hang with Alabama this weekend at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa?

That is a question that will be asked over and over in the heads of Tennessee fans right up until kick off on Saturday. That is set for 2:30 Central Time by the way.

The Vols are coming off of a bye week which actually came at a very good time. Tennessee is coming off of a hard fought victory over the Georgia Bulldogs 9 days ago in Knoxville. They have had consecutive games playing against some pretty good competition.

The Vols lost heartbreakers to Oklahoma and Florida. Tennessee was the better team in both games. They just fell apart in the fourth quarter of each of those. The other loss came at the hands of a tough, physical Arkansas team. Tennessee did not match up well at all with Arkansas. That is what bothers me about what we are about to see in Alabama. I’m not sure they match up well at all.

With that said, I do believe the Vols can hang with Alabama. I personally feel that Alabama is the best team in the country. I think they are playing on a higher level than even LSU. LSU is a really good team that has one really great player. LSU would not compete at the highest level without Fournette. Take away Derrick Henry from the Tide and they will still keep winning. How is that?

Alabama is not one dimensional for starters. They can throw the ball when they need to. As bad as I want to write it, and as bad as Tennessee fans want to read it, Lane Kiffin can flat call a ball game. Alabama runs pro style play action better than most NFL teams. They pound you and pound you with their run game until the safeties have to move up. Next thing you know you watch a receiver run by the safeties for an easy touchdown.

The Tide does not have a Julio Jones. But they are still really good. Honestly I fear their passing game more than I do the running game. Derrick Henry is great. But I think the defensive line and the linebacking corp can handle him. Let’s face it, he is going to get his 130 yards. The Vols just need to make sure it is a quiet 130 yards on the day. By that I mean keep those yards between the 20’s.

More from Butch Jones

It is Tennessee’s secondary verses Alabama’s passing game that concerns me. Emmanuel Moseley has had some cover problems. Brian Randolph and LaDarrell McNeil have struggled as well. Cam Sutton has been his steay self, but he has had lapses as well.

The Vols will be forced to play their base 4-3 because of the physicality of Alabama’s run game. They will not be in the nickel much unless they can force Alabama into third and long situations. That will be the key. If Alabama has a lot of third and ones or third and two’s it is going to be a long day for Tennessee.

Texas A&M started in a nickel defense against the Tide. Derrick Henry ran over them, through them and around them. He ran across the State of Texas on Saturday, and wasn’t touched much of the time.

Tennessee won’t make that same mistake. But that will put this secondary at risk. We know it, and I can guarantee you that Kiffin knows it. It will be imperative for the defensive line to get pressure on Coker each and every down. Bring the heat. What do you have to lose.

Tennessee should be able to play a little loose since they beat Georgia. This fact could make Tennessee a very dangerous team Saturday.  This is not a must win game for the Vols as it would have been if the Vols would have lost to the Dawgs. They need to go out and attack, and have fun doing so.

Dobbs had a really good game against the Tide last season in Knoxville. As a matter of fact, Tennessee outscored Alabama from the point Dobbs took over at quarterback. He posed problems for the talented Tide defense. He can do it again.

The run game for the Vols has been incredible. Jalen Hurd is as good as it gets in the SEC. He is as good as Derrick Henry in my opinion. Maybe better. Alvin Kamara will also be looking to play against his old teammates at Alabama. Yes, the run game will be just fine, but Alabama has an incredible defensive line. When one five star goes down they just go to the next fiver star defensive lineman. They have a bunch of them.

Yes Tennessee can hang. Will they? That remains to be seen. My friend Tim Woodward said Tennessee will win this on Saturday. As of right now I do not believe that. As it gets later in the week, I am sure I will regain that confidence I show each week for the Vols. For now, I will just have to say I see it Alabama by about 17. I’ll change my mind to Vols by 20 by Friday. Not that I’m a homer or anything.

More from Tenn Truth