Alabama Football: Insight on the Vols from an expert


Alabama football fans, an expert on the Tennessee Vols provided us with some valuable information on the Tennessee team. Our thanks to Caleb Calhoun at All For Tennessee for answering some questions.

I did the same for Caleb, answering his questions about the Alabama Crimson Tide. What Caleb wrote from my responses can be found here.

Alabama Football vs. Tennessee Questions and Answers

Alabama football fans are hearing confidence from Tennessee fans whether Bryce Young plays or not. I asked if the Vols will be missing any starters Saturday afternoon.

Caleb Calhoun Response

Cedric Tillman, the Vols’ go-to receiver, has been out since an ankle injury against Akron. He reportedly tried to get back for this game, but right now it seems unlikely. Without him, Bru McCoy and Ramel Keyton will hold down the wideout spots, and McCoy has had over 100 yards receiving the past two games.

Top cornerback Warren Burrell is out for the year, but Dee Williams, a junior college transfer, made his debut last week. He could maybe offset the position, but we still don’t know. Last week’s game against LSU wasn’t a good barometer to tell.

Safety Jaylen McCollough is facing some off-the-field issues that likely won’t be resolved by Saturday. As a result, he’s probably out too.

Next, I asked Caleb about the confidence level of Tennessee fans.

It’s funny. Vol Nation has been so badly burned by the last 15 years that the confidence interval just last week would’ve been 1. However, ever the desperate fan base for hope, the interval is now up to 10. There are a few reasons for that.

Exorcising their demons against Florida, even though they still almost choked away that game, lifted a huge burden. Still, nobody expected them to keep that up, so when they followed that with a blowout win at LSU, everything seemed more legitimate. Add in Alabama’s injury situation at quarterback, how they struggled with Texas A&M and Texas and the way they have struggled on the road since the start of last year outside of two games, and the confidence level shot through the roof.

Whether or not that confidence level is justified is a different story.

On a question about Tennessee weaknesses, the Crimson Tide can exploit, the answer was,

The biggest one is going to be the secondary. Tennessee has an awful pass defense and has had to rely on pressure to slow down passing attacks all year. Without Warren Burrell and Jaylen McCollough, it’ll be even worse.

That’s why it’s such a big deal if Bryce Young can play. The way to exploit the Vols is to have a vertical runner at quarterback like Florida’s Anthony Richardson, where they can’t afford to emphasize pressure without sacrificing gap integrity, or to have a pocket passer with enough mobility to elude pressure, but who can also destroy you from the pocket.

Another underrated weakness is containment by the linebackers. Last year, Aaron Beasley and Jeremy Banks were awful at it. They have improved significantly this year, facing two mobile quarterbacks the last two games, but again, Young is different. Last year, before he proved himself as a runner, Young had his best rushing performance against the Vols. Ole Miss’ Matt Corral ran for 195 yards on them.

We’ve heard all year about the linebackers improving in this area, but they haven’t really proven it yet. This will be the first game to really show it.

I also asked if Josh Heupel and his staff can outcoach Nick Saban and the Alabama football staff.

Yes. Tennessee is nowhere near Alabama talent-wise, but the Vols may have the best staff in the SEC when it comes to scheming. Josh Heupel and Alex Golesh are brilliant offensive play-callers. 

An underrated part of the Vols’ coaching is defensive coordinator Tim Banks. The amount of passing yards Tennessee has surrendered has led to lots of questions, but everybody forgets just how decimated this program was when Heupel took over. Defensive back is one position that still hasn’t caught up yet.

Banks, though, has done an incredible job scheming against different quarterbacks week to week. One of the reasons they give up lots of yards is they play so many possessions given Heupel’s offense, and knowing what the offense can do, Banks has had a strategy of forcing teams to run a lot of plays to move the ball downfield, increasing the odds they turn the ball over at some point.

Next. The Vols were higher ranked in 1989, until they met Siran Stacy. dark

The Vols have a deep rotation at defensive line, and as Caleb said, with Heupel’s offensive pace, they need that depth. They will need it, even more, Saturday afternoon.