Josh Heupel and the Vols face their biggest road test of the season as they face the Alabama Crimson Tide.
The two rivals will face each other at Bryant-Denny Stadium at 7 pm and be televised on ESPN.
Tennessee is coming off a heartbreaking 31-26 loss to Lane Kiffin’s Ole Miss Rebels.
The game was entirely overshadowed by a small number of fans throwing debris on the field.
Vols managed to come back from a 15 point deficit nearly, but a questionable 4th down spot ended any chance of the Vols completing a comeback.
Alabama is coming off a 49-9 win over Mississippi State.
Bama has a 6-1 record with a loss against Texas A&M.
Tennessee has a record of 4-3 with losses against Pitt, Florida, and Ole Miss.
While this is one of the weakest teams Nick Saban has had at Alabama, it is still Alabama, and Tennessee will need to play a perfect game to have a shot.
For the Vols to end their 14 game losing streak against Alabama and win their first game in Tuscaloosa since 2003, here is what the vols must do to beat Alabama:
Protect Hendon Hooker
Tennessee’s Offensive Line has to protect Hendon Hooker at all costs today.
Not only do they need to protect him from having a shot tonight, but they also need to protect them if we want to have a winning season this year.
Tennessee is ranked 119th in the country and dead last in the SEC in sacks allowed, averaging to allow 3.57 sacks a game.
Cade Mays is likely to be out, but Cooper Mays should be available.
The offensive line will need to have their best performance of the season.
If they can protect Hooker and buy him some time, Tennessee may have a glimmer of hope winning against the Tide today.
Put Pressure on Alabama’s Offensive Line
Another important thing the Vols need to do is put pressure on Alabama’s offensive line.
Alabama’s mediocre offensive line should be a great matchup for this Vols front seven.
The Crimson Tide are ranked 74th in sacks allowed, allowing 2.29 sacks per game.
The Tide are also 58th in the country in TFLs allowed per game, giving up 4.86 TFLs per game.
Tennessee is ranked 2nd in the country in TFLs, averaging over 8 TFLs per game.
The Vols are also ranked 28th in the country in Sacks averaging 2.71 per game.
Texas A&M, who ranks 19th in sacks and 78th in TFLs, has proven that Alabama’s offensive line is nothing special.
If Tim Banks’s defense can take advantage of the opportunities and put pressure on the Offensive Line, Tennessee is going to have a shot.
Efficient Running Game
Tennessee’s Rushing Game has to bounce back, and have a good day today.
Vols running backs struggled with the loss of Tiyon Evans, only rushing combining for 101 yards between Jabari Small, Len’neth Whitehead, and Marcus Pierce Jr.
Hooker once again has proven that he is the Vols biggest rushing threat (108 yards and 1 TD vs. Ole Miss), but the running backs need to bounce back.
If Evans is still out, Tennessee will need Small and Whitehead to step up.
Vols running backs struggled against an Ole Miss defense that is one of the worst in the country.
Bama has one of the best rushing defenses in the country, and Tennessee will need to find an answer.
If Tennessee can’t run the ball against the Tide, it will be a long night in Alabama.