The Third Saturday in October is back in its early time slot and not much has changed other than the head coach at Tennessee. The Vols enjoy a bit of swagger after defeating Auburn on the road last weekend, bringing them to 3-3 on the season. The Tide enter as a 28.5 point favorite and a bit banged up after injuries to DeVonta Smith, who is day-to-day, and Tua Tagovailoa who Nick Saban says is good to go.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the keys to the game.
Alabama currently ranks 29th in the nation in rushing offense, averaging 5.23 yards per carry and 216.7 rushing yards per game. Against SEC foes, those numbers drop to 3.9 yards per carry against Texas A&M, 4.1 yards per carry against Missouri, and 4.8 yards per carry against Ole Miss.
The Vols rush defense, ranked 61st overall, is giving up 4.53 yards per carry and 152.7 yards per game. The one SEC team the Tide did have success against, averaging 6.0 yards per carry, was Arkansas who is currently ranked 11 spots higher than Tennessee in this same category.
With Tua Tagovailoa’s sprained knee still not 100%, now is the perfect time for the Tide to focus on their run game.
Alabama is one game away from a much needed break. This will be the eighth straight game for the Tide before the off week come.
The Tide have had injuries along both sides of the ball, but Saban believes just about everyone is healthy enough to go except wide receiver DeVonta Smith. As of Wednesday he had yet to practice this week.
The bye week before LSU will be much welcomed in order to gear up for what appears to be the regular season’s most challenging game.
Depending on if Tua starts or not, keeping an eye on how he moves in the pocket and how he looks compared to last week could force Alabama to change its offensive philosophy. Tua missed throws, looked uncomfortable at times, and eventually re-injured his right knee before being pulled for the rest of the game. Personally, I think Jalen Hurts should start to give Tua another week of rest.
If Tua does start, he’ll need to be watched closely. Any signs of discomfort and he needs to come out.
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