Can Tennessee End the Drought Against Alabama?
That’s the question that every Tennessee fan has had in mind this week. Tennessee (4-3, 2-2 SEC) travels to Tuscaloosa to face #4 Alabama (6-1, 3-1 SEC), having not defeated the Tide since 2006. They haven’t defeated Bama at Bryant-Denny Stadium since 2003. Can they do it? I believe it to be unlikely, but not impossible and it depends on the status of starting QB Hendon Hooker. Hooker left last week’s game against Ole Miss with a leg injury and head coach Josh Heupel still has him listed as day-to-day.
Hooker is having a great year after fully taking over the starting role in the Tennessee offense. The Volunteers are putting up 39 points and 473 yards of total offense. Hooker is throwing at a 68% clip for 1296 yards, 14 TDs, and only one interception. If Hooker has to miss this game, Junior Joe Milton III will take his place. Milton has a 46.7% completion percentage in limited attempts and has thrown for 255 yards and one TD. Either way, Tennessee will need to rely heavily on the run game and RB1 Tiyon Evans. Evans has rushed for 486 yards on 73 carries and has scored 6 TDs this year. The offense runs far more smoothly when Evans and the other backs are involved. The problem with that is Alabama is only allowing an average of 90 yards rushing per game, as opposed to 210 through the air.
If Tennessee can succeed on the ground, they can also control the clock and the atmosphere, which will be the most important factors on Saturday night. The Volunteers have not had had success at controlling the clock this year, though. They only average 26 minutes of possession time per game. Keeping Bryce Young and Brian Robinson Jr. off the field is the only way that this game stays close.
QB Bryce Young has thrown for over 2000 yards at a 69.8% clip and has thrown 24 TDs so far this season. His favorite target has been Jameson Williams, who has caught 29 balls for 587 yards and 6 TDs. The Williams-Young connection is averaging 20 yards per reception. RB Brian Robinson Jr. is solidifying himself as one of the best backs in America this year, he’s a yard away from eclipsing 600 this season and has scored 8 times.
Feels like 1915. pic.twitter.com/F14qd37eyr
— Tennessee Football (@Vol_Football) October 20, 2021
7 PM ET
Spread -25 Alabama
Moneyline: +1500 Tennessee, -4500 Alabama