Alabama Football: Tennessee Volunteers defensive preview

Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports /

The Tennessee defense faces a similar predicament that Texas A&M did last week against Alabama football: it will have to prepare for two quarterbacks. While the Aggies didn’t have many problems forcing Jalen Milroe into mistakes, all signs indicate that the Volunteers will have to deal with Bryce Young.

The Tennessee scoring defense actually ranks in the top-25 in the country, giving up 17.8 points per game. This is somewhat of a misleading stat, however.

The Volunteers come in at 87th nationally in yards allowed per game (396.8), and have been shredded through the air by some fairly average quarterbacks.

Can Alabama Football capitalize on Vols’ secondary struggles?

Tennessee has allowed at least 241 passing yards in every game this season.

This includes a season-high 300 yards for LSU’s Jayden Daniels and a career-high 453 yards for Florida’s Anthony Richardson in the Vols’ two conference games. Tennessee allowed Daniels to eclipse 300 yards for the first time since 2019, his freshman season. It allowed Richardson to nearly triple his previous career high of 168 passing yards.

On average, Tennessee has surrendered 307.4 passing yards per game, ranking an abysmal 128th out of 131 FBS teams. If Bryce Young is able to play, this secondary could be the Vols’ downfall.

The unit has taken more hits in recent weeks, first losing starting cornerback Warren Burrell to a season-ending injury. Safety Jaylen McCullough is dealing with a legal issue, and may be out as well.

Defensive backs Trevon Flowers and Kamal Hadden are good players on the back end, but Tennessee will likely feel the losses of Burrell and McCullough.

An offense such as Alabama’s that spreads the ball around to a variety of targets will eventually expose secondary weaknesses if they are present. The Vols may have to rely on guys such as edge player Byron Young to pressure the pocket and give the secondary some assistance. Young is one of the SEC’s top pass rushers, and leads a unit that ranks 22nd nationally with 2.8 sacks per game.

Strength vs Strength: Can Alabama Football find success on the ground?

As woeful as they are against the pass, the Volunteers have been a good defense against the run this season. They rank in the top-10 in both rushing yards allowed per game and yards per carry average. Tennessee has some solid players in the front seven, including linebackers Aaron Beasley and Jeremy Banks.

Whether or not Alabama can run the ball will be a huge determining factor in this game. Tennessee has not allowed an opponent to rush for more than 3.6 YPC over the course of a game; the Alabama offense has posted a nation-leading 7.0 YPC. The Vols D has no choice but to win this battle of strengths, considering how bad the unit is against the pass.

Next. Tennessee offensive preview. dark

If the Alabama offense is able to play with that coveted balance, it becomes nearly unstoppable.