Alabama Offense vs Tennessee Defense
If Alabama is going to win this game, we have to perform well on offense. I’ve said this once, and I’ll say it again: the way of John Parker Wilson is the way of the Tide. If he gets protection and makes smart decisions, we will be able to move the ball with relative ease. If he’s being pressured into tossing off of his back foot, we’re in trouble.
Only five starters are back from 2006 on the Tennessee defense. There are a few concerns up front in the D-line. The middle of the line has been both good and bad at times. It remains to be seen if they can live up to the standards of the outstanding tackles of 2006. The ends, Xavier Mitchell and Antonio Reynolds, are seniors who have to be strong contributors in order for the Vols to perform well.
At the linebacker position, Jerod Mayo is fresh off a sophomore campaign in which he tallied 83 tackles, including five sacks. This year he is leading UT with 37 tackles after a position change from outside to middle linebacker. The move allowed sophomore Rico McCoy to take over Mayo’s former position. So far, it has appeared to have paid off. McCoy is one of UT’s top hitters and is second on the team with 33 tackles. Perhaps the best player for the defense is Safety Jonathan Hefney, a safety who racked up 96 tackles during his junior campaign. Having said that, Hefney has yet to live up to his pre-season billing.
While the defensive unit did not appear to be dominant during the start of the season, they have been able to show off much of their talent in games against teams such as Georgia. It will be interesting to see which Tennessee defense shows up in Tuscaloosa Saturday morning.
On offense, Alabama brings in an experienced bunch that has been up and down all season long. When we’re hot, we’re hot. And when we’re not, we’re ice cold.
Justin Britt is coming back after the issue with his mother (thank goodness she is ok). I expect yet another O-line set-up for this weekend. Chris Capps seems to be getting more and more love from Saban *shudders*. Granted, they’ve been in small doses, but he does bring out the bad side in most Bama fans.
The Bama receivers will have a big impact as well. With D.J. Hall leading the charge, expect to see plenty of passing. Keith Brown and Mike McCoy will be seeing plenty of action as well. Hopefully, Nikita Stover will be able to catch a few passes, breaking one open similar to his Iron Bowl touchdown.
As mentioned earlier, Quarterback play will be make our break the Tide. John Parker Wilson seems to have the heart of a gun slinger, with the decision making skills of a dink and dunk passer. Somehow, I imagine we’ll witness another 250 yard, 40+ pass attempt game from JPW. Hopefully, he will have another solid mental performance like he did last week.
If we are going to bring in a balanced attack, our triple attack at Runningback must be up to par. Glen Coffee, Terry Grant, and Roy Upchurch have all been receiving plenty of carries the last few games. Grant started hot, only to cool down over the last few games. I wonder how much that neck injury affected him in Jacksonville. Grant is the quick back, Coffee the power back, and Upchurch is a mixture of the two.
When it comes to the coaches, both Major Applewhite and John Chavis have experience in big time games. The only difference is that Major’s last big rivalry game came as a player.
Applewhite is the up and coming star, looking to make his mark in a big time BCS conference. His play calling has been questioned at times, but for the most part hasn’t been nearly as bad as years past. Still, the offense has yet to show a real
Chavis has been at Tennessee longer than any other assistant coach. He seems to be Fulmer’s right hand man, although he could be forced out to save Phil if the defense doesn’t show consistent play in the SEC. I imagine his unit will continue to improve as the season goes on. If UT is to continue their hot streak, the defense must play SEC caliber defense.
For some reason, I’m not exactly sure what to expect out of the UT defense. I’ve heard they’ve been practicing harder than ever this week; possibly working longer and harder than before. I don’t know what effect this will have during an 11:30 am road game, but I imagine energy for both teams could be iffy at times. Still, the time is now for the Alabama offense. If they are going to put together a near perfect game, now is the time. I say the Alabama offense has the advantage.