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STEPHEN’S REPORT: #4 Alabama vs. Tennessee Preview

It regained its swagger against Texas A&M, but Alabama has to maintain its momentum on the road. Neyland Stadium (Knoxville, Tenn.) is the venue this week as the Crimson Tide will face the Tennessee Volunteers.

Tennessee Volunteers: 3-4, (0-3)

Tennessee is a young, tough program, but it remains a few years away from competing with the big boys. Mississippi’s defense affected the Volunteers last week. Justin Worley tossed three interceptions and Tennessee registered zero rushing yards. Ole Miss won the contest 34-3.

Worley is a step up from Florida’s quarterback Jeff Driskel, but he continues to struggle with decision making. Worley has completed 62.3 percent of his passes for 1,579 yards. He has 12 touchdowns and eight interceptions this season. Worley can make big time throws, but his placement on passes must improve.

A huge performance from running back Jalen Hurd is a must for Tennessee against Alabama. Hurd leads all backs with 414 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 93 carries. Marlin Lane has 160 yards rushing and a touchdown. The Volunteers offensive line has to be disciplined and create opportunities for Tennessee.

Marquez North is Tennessee’s primary receiver. He’s registered 26 catches for 264 yards and four touchdowns. Alton “Pig” Howard has 26 receptions for 243 yards and a score. Jason Croom’s collected 13 passes for 188 yards and a touchdown. Von Pearson, Jalen Hurd and Josh Smith each have a touchdown reception.

Senior linebacker A.J. Johnson is the captain on Tennessee’s defense. Johnson has 78 tackles (8.0 tackles for loss), 1.5 sacks, one interception, two pass breakups, three passes defended, two forced fumbles and a blocked kick. Curt Maggit and Derek Barnett each have three sacks. Maggit has 23 tackles (6.0 tackles for loss) and a forced fumble. Barnett has 38 tackles (9.5 tackles for loss) and a fumble recovery. Defensive back Cameron Sutton leads the secondary with three interceptions. Sutton also has 23 tackles.

Alabama Crimson Tide: 6-1, (3-1)

Texas A&M has a high-flying offense. The Aggies averaged 43.9 points and 564.9 yards per game. Both stats suddenly became irrelevant against Alabama. The Crimson Tide sacked Kenny Hill six times. Alabama shutout Texas A&M 59-0. The Crimson Tide held the Aggies to 172 yards of offense.

Blake Sims targeted one receiver against Mississippi and Arkansas, but he shared the wealth against Texas A&M. Sims was composed, despite a few bad passes. He was 16/27 passing for 268 yards and four total touchdowns. He extended plays with his legs and didn’t turn the ball over.

Alabama’s offensive line returned full circle against Texas A&M. The Crimson Tide didn’t register a single penalty. T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry both performed well on the ground. Yeldon rushed for 114 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries. Henry totaled 70 rushing yards on 10 carries with two total touchdowns. Alabama’s offense line returns Ryan Kelly this week. The Crimson Tide looks to have Kelly prepared and ready for Tennessee.

Texas A&M’s secondary had no answer for Amari Cooper. He collected eight passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns. Cooper stands at 62 receptions for 908 yards and seven touchdowns this season. DeAndrew White has 19 catches for 184 yards and a score. T.J. Yeldon recorded three catches for 45 yards against the Aggies. He has 10 receptions for 143 yards and a touchdown this season.  Christion Jones has 11 catches for 154 yards. O.J. Howard stands with six receptions for 150 yards. Jalston Fowler has two touchdown receptions.

Ryan Anderson led Alabama’s defense against Texas A&M, but Landon Collins has anchored the team all season. Collins has 49 tackles, two interceptions and five pass breakups. Reggie Ragland is second on the team in tackles (45). He also has two pass breakups, two fumble recoveries, one interception and 1.5 sacks. Trey DePriest has 34 tackles, two pass breakups and a forced fumble. Xzavier Dickson is fourth in the Southeastern Conference in sacks (5.5).

Alabama—Tennessee Rivalry

Alabama and Tennessee have met 95 times. The Crimson Tide leads the series 50-38-7. 2006 was the last time Tennessee defeated Alabama. Erik Ainge was frustrated the entire game, but he threw for 302 yards. Arian Foster had one rushing touchdown and Tennessee win 16-13. The Crimson Tide has won the last seven meetings against Tennessee, including a 12-10 victory in 2009. The Volunteers controlled the momentum for most of the contest, but two Terrence Cody blocked field goals (Daniel Lincoln) secured a win for Alabama.

Lane Kiffin’s Return

Alabama’s offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin may need to wear ear plugs Saturday. Any person on the streets of Knoxville, Tenn., will tell you that Kiffin is public enemy number one. Johnny Majors and Phillip Fulmer are two coaches that Tennessee fans hold dear to their hearts.

Majors guided the Volunteers to three SEC titles in 1985, 1989 and 1990. Fullmer turned Tennessee into a powerhouse in 16 seasons (1992-08). The Volunteers won a national title in 1998, two SEC titles (1997-98) and six SEC Eastern Division titles (1997-98, 2001, 2003-04, 2007) under Fulmer.

2009 was Kiffin’s lone season as Tennessee’s head coach. It was also the last time the Volunteers had a winning record since Fulmer stepped down in 2008. Tennessee finished 2009 at 7-6. The Volunteers went to the Chick-fil-A Bowl, but lost to #11 Virginia Tech 37-14. On January 12, 2010, Kiffin left Tennessee to accept a head coaching position at Southern California.

Alabama: Bryant-Denny vs. Road games

Alabama has to show consistency on the road this season. The Crimson Tide averaged 48.5 points and 610.3 yards of offense in its four home games. The fans inside Bryant-Denny Stadium created an atmosphere of success for the team. It’s a different story on the road. Alabama’s averaged 15.5 points and 311.5 yards of offense in its two road games. The Crimson Tide has to communicate better and display more focus away from Bryant-Denny.

Alabama vs. Tennessee 2014 stats
Alabama’s offense Tennessee’s defense Alabama’s defense Tennessee’s offense
36.9 points 21.3 points 13.1 points 24.4 points
223.7 rush yards 159.6 rush yards 62.9 rush yards 94.0 rush yards
16 rushing TDs 11 rushing TDs 2 rushing TDs 8 rushing TDs
290.9 pass yards 166.3 pass yards 198.7 pass yards 231.1 pass yards
16 passing TDs 6 passing TDs 6 passing TDs 12 passing TDs
514.6 total yards 325.9 total yards 261.6 total yards 325.1 total yards
53% 3rd down 28% 3rd down 30% 3rd down 37% 3rd down

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