Alabama Football: Can Tennessee defense disrupt Jalen Milroe?


When it comes into Bryant-Denny Stadium this week, Tennessee hopes to disrupt Jalen Milroe and an offense that hasn’t always performed at a consistent level this sea. If it wants to remain undefeated in conference play, Alabama Football will need a steady outing from the offense against an aggressive Vols defense.

Tennessee has been pretty good defensively from a statistical standpoint, although it hasn’t exactly faced a bunch of potent offenses. Among SEC teams, the Volunteers rank third in scoring defense (17.0 PPG) and fourth in total defense (303.0 YPG).

The Vols have been fairly good at generating havoc in the front seven, and have gotten after opposing quarterbacks this season. Edge rushers James Pearce Jr. and Tyler Baron, as well as linebacker Aaron Beasley, have led that effort.

Pearce Jr. and Beasley both rank in the top five in the SEC with 9.0 tackles for loss apiece, while Pearce Jr. and Baron are in the top six in the league in sacks. Tennessee can present problems on the edge, particularly for Bama’s young left tackle duo of true freshman Kadyn Proctor and redshirt freshman Elijah Pritchett.

Other contributors, including interior defensive linemen Omari Thomas and Bryson Eason, have helped to make the Vols’ defense stout up front. Tennessee also features a very athletic true freshman linebacker in Arion Carter, who chose the Vols over the Tide in the 2023 recruiting cycle.

Alabama Football has had plenty of issues in recent years with explosive freshmen linebackers, who have often been deployed to spy the Bama quarterback. That list includes LSU’s Harold Perkins, Texas’ Anthony Hill, and Ole Miss’ Suntarine Perkins. Tennessee could attempt to use Carter in a similar manner to pressure Jalen Milroe and keep him from escaping the pocket with his legs.

On the back end, senior cornerback Kamal Hadden leads the Volunteers with three interceptions and eight pass breakups. Hadden is a talented cover corner, but will have his hands full with the likes of Jermaine Burton and Isaiah Bond. If Hadden gets too eager to jump a route, he could be susceptible to a double move similar to the one Kobe Prentice used to score against Arkansas last week.

Tennessee has a solid defense from top to bottom, but it will likely rely on generating havoc against the Tide offense. Alabama Football hasn’t turned the ball over often this year, but it has had far too many negative plays, including sacks.

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Although it hasn’t shown the ability to do so over the course of an entire game, Bama will do its best to keep white shirts out of the backfield and keep Jalen Milroe as clean as possible.