Alabama Defense vs. Tennessee Offense
When you look at the game for this weekend, the one match-up that could lead to disaster for the Tide is between the Bama defense and the UT offense. Even though Alabama has some talent in the starting rotation, the real problem for the Tide is the lack of depth. In order to determine what could occur on Third Saturday, lets take a brief look at the coaches and recent trends
If you haven’t noticed, Tennessee has been a 2nd half team during the later half of the Fulmer years. Take last year for example. Alabama had Ainge on the ropes with 3 interceptions in the first half. However, the Vols were able to make a comeback out of it, winning 16-13. In fact, UT was able to drive late in the 4th quarter in 2005 before Roman Harper knocked the ball loose with his head. UT has had 2nd half comebacks all throughout this series.
The Alabama offense will have a big effect on how our defense plays. If our offense starts to falter in the 2nd half YET AGAIN, the odds of a possible 2nd half comeback happening this Saturday are high. Our defense has talent, but they aren’t deep enough to play over 30 minutes of game time.
What’s interesting about this match-up is the fact that both coordinators graduated from the opposing school: Kevin Steele (Tennesse ’81) and David Cutcliffe (Alabama ’76). Steele has family in the Tuscaloosa area, which helped to bring him to the Capstone. Cutcliffe has been in Knoxville before, during the Peyton Manning era. I think they have the same barber.
Cutcliffe is known for his ability to develop quarterbacks. You can see his body of work currently in the NFL (the Mannings). Currently, he’s turned Erik Ainge into a very solid player. His hobby on the side is to make Ole Miss Rebel fans regret the day they sent him packing for Ed Orgeron. His rest in Oxford between Knoxville visits hasn’t seemed to affect his ability as an offensive coach in any negative way.
Steele is known for his ability to recruit, winning the title of national recruiter of the year. He normally prefers to run a 3-4 defense, as does Saban. However, with the pool of talent currently at Alabama, the defense has been known to run multiple defensive sets (4-3, nickel, etc.) hardly ever running 3-4 for the majority of the game. In fact, I don’t believe we ever saw a true 3-4 scheme during the first few games of this season. He came to Alabama from Florida State, where he was Linebackers coach and Associate Head Coach under Bobby Bowden. Before arriving in Tallahassee, Steele was the Head Coach for the Baylor Bears, where he only won 1 conference game (it’s Baylor guys).
The obvious advantage goes to Cutcliffe for now, who has been there longer, having time to build up his side of the ball. Steele is a capable D-Coordinator, but he just doesn’t seem to have the depth required to win big in the SEC. If the previous Alabama games are any indication, expect to see the Tide take an early lead, only to watch it slip away as Cutcliffe and company carefully dissect our tired defense. Stay tuned for Part 2, Applewhite vs. Chavis!