Fearless Prediction: Tennessee vs. Alabama
The Fearless Prediction prides itself on being the most reliable source of Tennessee football prognostication on the interwebs. So when we get something woefully incorrect, we take that to heart.
Last week’s Tennessee/Kentucky call was not our finest hour. So we will attempt to regain your trust posthaste.
Saturday afternoon, the Vols welcome Alabama to Neyland Stadium. It’s been a streaky series, and right now that streak is all in the direction of the Crimson and White. The Tide have beaten UT 13 straight times. It’s a generational drought for the Vols, and there isn’t any rain in the forecast.
Alabama doesn’t have a dominant defense, but when you are scoring nearly 50 points a game, you don’t need to be the 2000 Baltimore Ravens on that side of the football.
Mac Jones is no game manager. He’s the best quarterback in the league. Jones has thrown for over 400 yards in 3 consecutive games. DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle are his top 2 targets, and so far have yet to be stopped or even inconvenienced by an opposing defense. If somehow the passing game were held in check, the Tide would lean on running back Najee Harris, who already has 499 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns this season.
That offense is a problem. I’d say that Tennessee should pray for a rainout, but football games don’t get rained out.
Tennessee’s offense was just outscored by Kentucky’s defense, 14-7. The Vols’ quarterback position is a mess. The offensive line is not playing up to expectations. Top receiver Josh Palmer only had 1 catch for 11 yards against UK. These are not the good times. The lone bright spot for the Tennessee offense was sophomore running back Eric Gray, who had 128 rushing yards.
If the Vols are going to get back on track, it’ll likely have to be on the ground. Whether it is Jarrett Guarantano, J.T. Shrout, Brian Maurer or even true freshman Harrison Bailey at quarterback, it isn’t realistic to expect the Tennessee passing game to flip a switch and be able to keep pace with the high-flying offenses we are seeing across the SEC. The Vols are going to have to control the clock and limit opportunities for crushing mistakes.
Tennessee’s offense has put its defense in some awful positions. But that isn’t an excuse. Kentucky’s offense is fairly one-dimensional, but the Vols couldn’t keep them off the field in the second half. Sophomore Henry To’o To’o continues to impress, following an 8 tackle afternoon against UK (2 for a loss including a sack). Unfortunately, there aren’t enough players of his caliber on the Tennessee roster.
And in another sign that things are not ideal right now on Rocky Top, defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh was fired after only 4 games. It’s a move that feels desperate … because it is.
It’s a well-known stat. Former Nick Saban assistants at Alabama are 0-22 against their mentor. Whether it’s Kirby Smart or Derek Dooley or … you know, we could just keep naming guys, but it doesn’t matter. They all lose to Saban. Pruitt, a multiple-time Saban assistant, is 0-2 against Saban. Last year in Tuscaloosa it felt like the Vols were closing the gap …
It doesn’t feel like that right now.
Fearless Prediction time …
Alabama 47, Tennessee 17