Nine things Tennessee can do to reclaim the Third Saturday in October
The Tennessee Volunteers (3-4, 0-3 SEC) host the No. 4 Alabama Crimson Tide (6-1, 3-1) for their annual Third Saturday in October matchup. The Tide have won each of the past seven games, dating back to a 41-17 win in 2007, Nick Saban’s first year as head coach. The Vols are still early in their rebuilding process under second-year coach Butch Jones and aren’t expected to pose a threat in this year’s game.
But history has proven that the tide (no pun intended) can change in the annual rivalry. Here’s nine things Tennessee can do to reclaim the Third Saturday in October.
9. Have faith in “Brick by Brick” process- Butch Jones is in his second season as Tennessee’s head coach. Though the Vols have struggled, the team has seen improvement this season in several areas. Most fans remain optimistic of his “Brick by Brick” rebuilding process moving forward, but could jump off the bandwagon if patience runs thin. The Vols should continue laying the foundation of a once proud program in order to reclaim their winning tradition.
8. Hire a rival- If you can’t beat them, hire them. That’s not quite the saying, but it applies in this situation. The best way to beat Alabama may be to hire someone from within the program as an assistant. Perhaps a former player from recent years’ past that still has a strong familiarity with the program. As long as its not Saban’s former recruiting coordinator/tight ends coach at LSU, we all know how well that turned out last time.
7. Improve offensive scheme- Mike Bajakian’s offense has struggled this season. The coordinator has called several questionable plays that have done little to salvage a depleted offensive attack. Moving forward, Jones may decide to part ways with his longtime assistant should he fail to make the proper adjustments necessary.
6. Schedule easier out of conference games- Tennessee enters this year’s game with a 3-4 record. All of the Vols’ losses have come against ranked teams, including a non conference blowout to Oklahoma. By the time Tennessee enters its annual matchup against Alabama, it is already worn down by several tough matchups.
5. Wait for Nick Saban to retire- Nick Saban owns Tennessee. Since his arrival, Saban is 7-0 against the Vols in the annual matchup. But, since he’s given no indication of his plans after football, this may be wishful thinking for Tennessee fans.
4. Avoid injuries- Tennessee faces Alabama midway through the season. At this point, the Vols tend to experience several key injuries. Facing one of the nation’s top programs, Tennessee must keep its roster healthy in order to compete.
3. Have coaching stability- Since Saban’s arrival in Tuscaloosa, the Tennessee has had four different coaches face Alabama. The turnover has led to several years stuck in rebuilding mode. The Vols are invested in Jones right now, but a lack of success could change things. The best answer for the program is to give the head coach more time to fix a depleted program.
2. Continue recent success on recruiting trail- Jones has seen a great deal of success on the recruiting trail. During his first full season as head coach, the Vols signed a top-5 recruiting class for 2014. Alabama has signed the No. 1 recruiting class every year since 2011, according to Rivals.com. Tennessee must see similar results in order to field a competitive roster.
1. Develop top prospects- Tennessee’s success on the recruiting trail is one thing, but it means nothing if the players don’t reach their expected potential. Jones and staff can recruit as many blue chip prospects as they want, but they will have to coach them into SEC standouts in order to see success against Alabama.