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Previewing Tennessee in its match-up with Alabama

Cedric Mason- Touchdown Alabama Magazine

The month of October is associated with many things, but one in particular happens to be an annual rivalry game between Alabama and Tennessee. The heated contest better known as the “Third Saturday in October” will take center stage this weekend at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Alabama has practiced with a low-key attitude all week, despite its 41-23 win over Texas A&M.  Tennessee enter the 2015 season as a “dark horse” to win the SEC East, yet injuries and tough losses has it sitting at 3-3. A win against the Crimson Tide would help salvage its season. Yours truly of TDAM now breaks down Tennessee’s impact players.

Tennessee Volunteers: 3-3, (1-2 SEC)

Head coach Butch Jones and the Tennessee Volunteers will face Alabama after coming off a bye week. Tennessee overcame a 24-3 deficit in the first half against Georgia on Oct. 10.  It outscored the Bulldogs 21-7 in the second half, to secure a 38-31 comeback victory at home.

Volunteers’ quarterback Joshua Dobbs has guided this team to an average of 37.2 points per game. The 6-foot-3, 207-pound junior has completed 98 of 169 (58 percent) passes for 1,101 yards with eight touchdowns to two interceptions. He has a quarterback rating of 125.97.

Dobbs is a prime example of a dual threat quarterback. He is exceptional with his arm and productive with his feet, totaling 368 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 73 attempts.

Dobbs played well against Alabama last season, posting 192 passing yards, 75 rushing yards, two touchdown and an interception in Tennessee’s 20-34 loss at Neyland Stadium.

Sophomore Jalen Hurd leads Tennessee’s rushing attack. He has recorded 572 yards rushing with seven touchdowns on 126 tries. Hurd is averaging 4.54 yards a carry and 95.3 yards per game. Redshirt sophomore Alvin Kamara will see some carries against Alabama. He is averaging 5.67 yards per attempt and has registered two touchdowns with 255 rushing yards.

Sophomore tight end Ethan Wolf is Dobbs’s primary receiving target. He leads the group with 15 catches for 213 yards and two touchdowns. Wolf is averaging 14.20 yards per reception.

Wide receiver Josh Malone has 169 yards and a touchdown on 17 catches, while Josh Smith’s accounted for 11 receptions for 144 yards and a touchdown. Freshman wide out Preston Smith is averaging 22.57 yards per catch, with two touchdown receptions this season. Both Jason Croom (knee, out) and Marquez North (knee) are nursing injuries.

North, a junior, has played in only four games.

Defensively, the Volunteers are anchored by linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin and defensive lineman Derek Barnett. Revees-Maybin, a junior, has 56 total tackles, eight tackles for loss and three sacks. Barnett, a sophomore, has 32 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and two sacks.

Tennessee will be without freshman defensive tackle Shy Tuttle (leg) and senior linebacker Curt Maggitt. Tuttle is lost for the season, while Maggitt will miss six to 10 weeks (hip).

Defensive backs LaDarrell McNeil and Todd Kelly, Jr., each have two interceptions, but safety Cameron Sutton anchors Tennessee’s secondary. The junior has 18 total tackles this season.

Notes on Alabama-Tennessee rivalry

Saturday will be the 97th meeting between Alabama and Tennessee.

The Crimson Tide currently leads the series 51-38 with seven ties. Alabama currently is on an eight-game win streak, dating back to 2007 in Nick Saban’s first year as head coach.

Game Prediction: Alabama 38, Tennessee 14

Stephen M. Smith is a senior analyst and columnist for Touchdown Alabama MagazineYou can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @ESPN_Future.

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