Alabama Football: Tennessee Volunteers offensive preview


Alabama football takes on the Tennessee Volunteers in one of the most highly anticipated games of the season thus far. This matchup will feature a clash between the Alabama defense and the Tennessee offense, which have both been elite units this year.

The Vols offense showed flashes of explosiveness last season. In year two under Josh Heupel, they have fine-tuned Heupel’s uptempo system. The 2022 Volunteers are more consistent and balanced on the offensive side of the ball.

Tennessee ranks first in the nation in total offense (547.8 YPG) and second in scoring (46.8 PPG). The Vols are the seventh best passing team in the country (340.4 YPG) and rank 23rd in rushing (207.4 YPG).

Alabama Football: Hooker makes the Vols go

Quarterback Hendon Hooker is the straw that stirs the drink. Hooker ranks seventh in the country with a passer efficiency rating of 179.5, and has thrown for 1,432 yards and 10 touchdowns. In addition to being highly efficient, he is able to push the ball down the field, averaging 11.7 yards per attempt.

Perhaps most importantly, he’s able to do so without turning the ball over. Hooker has yet to throw an interception this season, and has thrown just three picks to go with 41 touchdowns in his Tennessee career. He is also a dynamic runner, with 231 yards (5.1 YPC) and three touchdowns on the season.

When Tennessee and Hooker air it out, they have a lot of weapons at their disposal. Cedric Tillman was the Vols’ leading returning receiver, with 1,081 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. Tillman has missed the last two games with an ankle injury and is unlikely to suit up against Alabama.

Still, Tennessee boasts a trio of big-play receivers in Bru McCoy, Jalin Hyatt, and Ramel Keyton. This collective will try its best to stress Bama’s elite secondary.

Alabama Football: Volunteers’ effective ground game

Hendon Hooker is Tennessee’s most recognizable player, and the national perception is that Josh Heupel operates a pass-happy offense. In reality, however, the Vols have been fairly run heavy, running the ball 44.4 times per game to rank just outside of the top-10 nationally.

Running backs Jaylen Wright (315 yards, four touchdowns) and Jabari Small (311 yards, six touchdowns) have split carries almost evenly this season. Both players have significant experience as well. Small, a junior, led the Vols in rushing last season while Wright, a sophomore, was also firmly in the 2021 rotation.

Tennessee implements an uptempo scheme in which they run plays at a dizzying pace in an attempt to run as many plays as possible over the course of a game.

On several occasions last season, the Vols offense caught Alabama defenders off guard, snapping the ball before the Tide was ready. Coach Nick Saban has certainly gotten his defense lots of practice reps against the hurry-up this week. Their level of preparation will be critical to avoid giving the Vols any free points.

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This should be a heavyweight matchup when Tennessee has the ball. Heupel’s squad has looked like one of the best offenses in the country through five games, but it has yet to face a defense like that of Alabama football.