2017 Alabama Football opponents from worst to best: Tennessee Vols

KNOXVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 15: Bo Scarbrough
KNOXVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 15: Bo Scarbrough /

Each Monday leading up to the 2017 Alabama football season we will focus on a Tide opponent from the projected worst team to the best.

The rundown of the 2017 Alabama football season started with this report on the Mercer Bears. Then we covered Fresno State, Colorado StateVanderbilt, and last week Mississippi State.

2017 Alabama Football Opponents from Worst to Best

No. 12 – Mercer Bears

No. 11 – Fresno State Bulldogs

No. 10 – Colorado State Rams

No. 9 – Vanderbilt Commodores

No. 8 – Mississippi State Bulldogs

No. 7 – Tennessee Volunteers

No. 7 Tennessee Volunteers – October 21, Tuscaloosa

In 2016 the Tennessee Vols fielded their second best team in nine years, going 9-4, including 4-4 in the SEC. Posting back-to-back nine win seasons should have invigorated Tennessee fans. But the Vols 2016 season had two significant blemishes. Vanderbilt beat Tennessee for the third time in five seasons. Alabama football ran its streak of wins against Tennessee to 10 games.

For Tennessee, those two 2016 losses are no minor imperfections. Many Vols fans consider losing to Vandy and Alabama again to have ruined a nine-win season.

Alabama Crimson Tide Football
Alabama Crimson Tide Football /

Alabama Crimson Tide Football

Optimistic Tennessee fans can look toward to 14 returning starters in 2017, but that stat is misleading. The Vols will start three seniors on the offensive line but the 2016 line too often collapsed. Josh Dobbs had the mobility to bail out those weaknesses but the Vols have no proven QB in 2017.

QB’s Quinton Dormady or Jarrett Guarantano may prove to be capable replacements for Dobbs but they are untested. Even with a few games of experience, on October 21 in Tuscaloosa, they will be severely challenged. Tennessee first year QB’s have no history of being up to that task.

Defensively, Tennessee was weak against the run in 2016. The Vols were No. 11 in the SEC and No. 104 in the nation in rushing defense. It will be interesting to see how the 2017 defense handles the Georgia Tech rushing attack in the Vols’ opening game.

Besides also losing the 2016 team’s primary defensive enforcer in Derek Barnett, the Vols have no proven running back. The Vols have too many questions, particularly at skill positions, to catch up from a 49-10 loss to Alabama last season.

Tennessee game will be Tide’s eighth straight

Tennessee’s only real hope in 2017 is Alabama football will be playing its eighth straight game. Fatigue, more than Lane Kiffin kept the 2009 game close. It could be a factor again. Saban will adjust. First-teamers should not have to play excessive time in the Fresno State, Colorado State and Vanderbilt games.

Alabama football may get an extra day of rest in the Arkansas and Tennesee weeks. The game will not be a repeat of 2009 when two Terrance Cody field goal blocks were needed for the win. Alabama football will beat Tennessee for the eleventh straight time.

Next: 30 Great Tide Players who were 3-Star Recruits

Check back with us next Monday. From worst to best gets much tougher in sorting out No. 6, No. 5 and N0. 4. As always, RTR Forever!