Alabama vs. Tennessee: Complete Game Preview

Sanjay KirpalaniNational Recruiting AnalystOctober 16, 2012

Alabama vs. Tennessee: Complete Game Preview

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    The third Saturday of October is finally approaching, which is a date than has been forever linked to the annual clash between Alabama and Tennessee. 

    Alabama has won the last five meetings between the two rivals, which coincides with Nick Saban’s arrival at the Capstone.  

    However, there will be a bit of familiarity between the two teams—with Alabama linebackers coach and Tennessee defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri having swapped sidelines from a year ago. 

    Alabama has looked strong in its first three road appearances, but what can fans expect from this weekend’s trip to Rocky Top? 

    Find out everything you need to know about the meeting between the Crimson Tide and the Volunteers in this complete game preview.  

Gameday Info

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    Who: Alabama at Tennessee

    When: Saturday, 7:00 p.m. (EDT)

    Where: Knoxville, TN.

    Stadium: Neyland Stadium, (102,455)

    TV: ESPN

    Radio: Crimson Tide Sports Network, Sirius Channel 85, XM Channel 85

    Internet Stream: ESPN3, WatchESPN

Depth Chart for Alabama

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    Offense

    LT—71—Cyrus Kouandijo, SO (6’6”, 311)

    63—Kellen Williams, JR (6’3”, 303)

     

    LG—65—Chance Warmack, SR (6’3”, 320)

    Chad Lindsay, SO (6’2”, 290)

     

    C—75—Barrett Jones, SR (6’5”, 302)

    70—Ryan Kelly, FR (6’5”, 288)

     

    RG—61—Anthony Steen, JR (6’3”, 303)

    77—Arie Kouandijo, SO (6’5, 310)

     

    RT—76—D.J. Fluker, JR (6’6”, 335)

    79—Austin Shepherd, SO (6’5”, 312)

     

    TE—89—Michael Williams, SR (6’6”, 269)

    84—Brian Vogler, SO (6’7”, 258)

     

    H—31—Kelly Johnson, SR (6’3”, 230)

    82—Harrison Jones, SO (6’4”, 244)

    21—Brent Calloway, FR (6’1”, 217)

     

    QB—10—AJ McCarron, JR (6’4”, 205)

    12—Phillip Ely, FR (6’1”, 198) OR

    6—Blake Sims, SO (6’0”, 182)

     

    RB—42—Eddie Lacy, JR (6’0”, 220)

    4—T.J. Yeldon, FR (6’2”, 216)

    17—Kenyan Drake, FR (6’1”, 204)

     

    WR (X)—9—Amari Cooper, FR (6’1”, 198)

    80—Marvin Shinn, FR (6’3”, 198)

     

    WR (Z)—83—Kevin Norwood, JR (6’2”, 195)

    7—Kenny Bell, JR (6’1”, 180)

     

    WR (H)—22—Christion Jones, SO (5’11, 185)

    8—Cyrus Jones, FR (5’10”, 192)

     

    Defense

     

    DE—49—Ed Stinson, JR (6’4”, 282)

    8—Jeoffrey Pagan, SO (6’4”, 285)

     

    NG—54—Jesse Williams, SR (6’4”, 320)

    62—Brandon Ivory, SO (6’4”, 315)

     

    DE—92—Damion Square, SR (6’3”, 286)

    90—Quinton Dial, SR (6’6”, 304)

     

    Sam OLB—42—Adrian Hubbard, SO (6’6”, 248)

    19—Jonathan Atchison, JR (6’3”, 236)

     

    Mike ILB—33—Trey Depriest, SO (6’2”, 245), or 35—Nico Johnson, SR (6’3”, 245)

    18—Reggie Ragland, FR (6’2”, 247)

     

    Will ILB—35—Nico Johnson, SR (6’3”, 245). or 32—C.J. Mosley, JR (6’2”, 232)

    11—Tana Patrick, JR (6’3”, 236)

     

    Jack OLB—47—Xzavier Dickson, SO (6’3”, 262)

    30—Denzel Devall, FR (6’2”, 243)

     

    CB—28—Dee Milliner, JR (6’1”, 199)

    10—John Fulton, JR (6’0”, 187)

     

    CB—13—Deion Belue, JR (5’11”, 179)

    24—Geno Smith, FR (6’0”, 182)

     

    SS—37—Robert Lester, SR (6’2”, 210)

    3—Vinnie Sunseri, SO (6’0”, 215)

     

    FS—6—HaHa Clinton-Dix, SO (6’1”, 209) OR 27—Nick Perry, JR (6’1”, 208)

    26—Landon Collins, FR (6’0”, 202)

     

    Special Teams

     

    PK—5—Jeremy Shelley, SR (5’10”, 165), or 43—Cade Foster, JR (6’1, 218)

     

    KO—43—Cade Foster, JR (6’1”, 218)

     

    HOLD—10—AJ McCarron, JR (6’4”, 210)

    3—Vinnie Sunseri, SO (6’0”, 215)

     

    P—29—Cody Mandell, JR (6’4”, 202)

    5 – Jeremy Shelley, SR (5’10”, 165)

     

    SN—51—Carson Tinker, SR (6’1”, 220)

    31—Kelly Johnson, SR (6’3”, 230)

     

    PR—22—Christion Jones, SO (5’11”, 185)

    8 – Cyrus Jones, FR (5’10”, 192)

     

    KR—22—Christion Jones, SO (5’11”, 185)

    28—Dee Milliner, JR (6’1”, 199)

    8—Cyrus Jones, FR (5’10”, 192)

    83—Kevin Norwood, JR (6’2”, 195)

Depth Chart for Tennessee

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    Offense

     

    TE—81—Mychal Rivera, SR (6’3”, 244)

    85—Brendan Downs, SO (6’5”, 254)

     

    LT—74—Antonio Richardson, SO (6’6”, 329)

    67—Alan Posey, FR (6’6”, 317)

     

    LG—71—Dallas Thomas, SR (6’5”, 310)

    68—Marcus Jackson, SO (6’2”, 320)

     

    C—64—James Stone, JR (6’3”, 310)

    57—Mack Crowder, FR (6’2”, 283)

     

    RG—72—Zach Fulton, JR (6’5”, 324)

    78—Alex Bullard, JR (6’2”, 300)

     

    RT—70—Ja’Waun James, JR (6’6”, 323)

    77 – Kyler Kerbyson, FR (6’5”, 320)

     

    WR (X)—11—Justin Hunter, JR (6’4”, 200)

    6—Vincent Dallas, SO (5’11”, 187)

     

    WR (Z)—84—Cordarrelle Patterson, JR (6’3”, 205)

    83—Zach Rogers, SR (6’0”, 172)

     

    QB—8—Tyler Bray, JR (6’6”, 215)

    14—Justin Worley, SO (6’4”, 213)

     

    RB—20—Raijon Neal, JR (5’11”, 211)

    19—Devrin Young, SO (5’8”, 172)—OR—

    15—Marlin Lane, SO (5’11”, 205)

     

    FB—3—9Ben Bartholomew, SR (6’2”, 252)

    38—Justin King, FR (6’2”, 225)

     

    Defense

     

    DE—94—Darrington Sentimore, JR (6’2”, 288)

    80—Corey Miller, JR (6’3”, 257)

     

    NG – 98 – Daniel McCullers, JR (6’6”, 377)

    97 – Daniel Hood, JR (6’4”, 292)

     

    DE—44—Maurice Couch, JR (6’2”, 295)

    58—Marlon Walls, JR (6’2”, 283)

     

    JACK—55—Jacques Smith, JR (6’2”, 244)

    54—Jordan Williams, SO (6’5”, 256)

     

    SLB—56—Curt Maggit, SO (6’3”, 240)

    86—Willie Bohannon, SR (6’2”, 253)

     

    MLB—45—A.J. Johnson, SO (6’3”, 240)

    46—Channing Fugate, JR (6’1”, 233)

     

    WLB—34—Herman Lathers, SR (6’0”, 230)

    41—Dontavis Sapp, JR (6’2”, 224)

     

    CB—27—Justin Coleman, SO (5’10”, 182)

    10—Marsalis Teague, SR (5’11”, 182)

     

    FS—3—Byron Moore, JR (6’0”, 193)

    22—Rod Wilks, SR (6’0”, 221)

     

    SS—33—LaDarrell McNeil, FR (6’1”, 195)

    17—Brent Brewer, JR (6’1”, 214)

     

    CB —23—Prentiss Waggner, SR (6’2”, 182)

    24—Eric Gordon, JR (5’9”, 190)

     

    Special Teams

     

    P—43—Matt Darr, SO (6’1”, 213)—OR—

    1—Michael Palardy, JR (5’11”, 177)

     

    PK—1—Michael Palardy, JR (5’11”, 177)

    42—Derrick Brodus, JR (5’11”, 188)

     

    KOS – 1 – Michael Palardy, JR (5’11”, 177)

    42 – Derrick Brodus, JR (5’11”, 188)

     

    DS—53—J.R. Carr, JR (5’10”, 224)

    59—Matt Giampapa, SO (6’0”, 239)

     

    Holder—3—Tyler Drummer, JR (6’1”, 172)

    43—Matt Darr, SO (6’1”, 213)

     

    PR—19—Devrin Young, SO (5’8”, 172)

    11—Justin Hunter, JR (6’4”, 200)

     

    KR—19—Devrin Young, SO (5’8”, 172)

    84—Cordarrelle Patterson, JR (6’3”, 205) 

What Happened to the Crimson Tide Last Week

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    Alabama began the most daunting stretch of its schedule by earning an impressive 42-10 road victory at Missouri. 

    The Tide went up 27-0 before a weather delay suspended the action midway through the second quarter, and survived some sloppy play after the restart on a soggy afternoon in Columbia.

    The defense was dominant holding the Tigers to just 129 yards of total offense, while the offense racked up 533 yards (362 of them on the ground) and controlled the game from the outset. 

    Alabama kept the top spot both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches polls, and they were also tabbed the nation’s top team in the initial BCS standings released earlier this week.  

What Happened to the Volunteers Last Week

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    Tennessee traveled to Starkville to face unbeaten Mississippi State, and hung tough before falling 41-31 in a back-and-forth contest. 

    Similar to its previous defeats to Florida and Georgia, the Volunteers were in a game that was up for grabs and simply failed to deliver in the fourth quarter. 

    The loss knocked the Vols to 3-3, and leaves them winless in SEC play.  

What It Means for Both Teams

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    Derek Dooley has lived on the proverbial “hot seat” for the last year or so, but a win over the top-ranked Crimson Tide would go a long way towards quelling those sentiments. 

    For Alabama, a sixth straight victory over the Volunteers would clear one of its toughest remaining road hurdles and keep them in position to play for an SEC and national title. 

    The stakes are always high in a rivalry game, but both teams have a lot to play for in Neyland Stadium this weekend.  

Key Player for Alabama

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    The emergence of sophomore safety Ha’Ha Clinton-Dix has been one of the main reasons that Alabama’s defense has picked up right where it left off last season. 

    Clinton-Dix has stepped into the spot left vacant by Mark Barron and has been up to the task in keeping everything in front of him and rarely allowing an opponent to beat the defense over the top. 

    However, if there is one area that the Vols pose a threat to the Tide (or anyone else they play for that matter), it’s with the big-play ability that wideouts Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson possess. 

    With Alabama facing teams with quarterback issues (Arkansas, Missouri) or sub-par receiving groups (Michigan, FAU, WKU) to this point in the season, this game will provide Clinton-Dix with his stiffest test since taking over as a starter in the secondary.  

Key Player for Tennessee

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    Tennessee junior Tyler Bray is one of the nation’s top NFL quarterback prospects should he choose to leave Knoxville a year early, but despite his immense talent, he has been unable to lead the Vols to a signature win during his career (h/t, cbssports.com). 

    If the Vols have any chance to earn its first win over the Tide since 2006, the arm of Bray is going to have to play a huge role in dissecting the Tide’s dominant defense. 

    Bray has a pair of NFL-caliber receivers to throw to, but he will need his offensive line to keep him upright and help from a dinged up group of running backs if the Vols hope to spring the upset.  

Alabama Will Win If ...

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    Alabama will win if it continues to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball like it has all season long. 

    Tennessee has surrendered an average of 43 points per game in its three losses against SEC schools, which doesn’t bode well for its defense heading into a matchup with an Alabama squad that averages nearly 41 points per game. 

    With A.J. McCarron potentially less than 100-percent heading into this game, expect Alabama to try and pound the Vols up front behind the running back tandem of Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon (h/t, John Pennington, mrsec.com).  

Tennessee Will Win If ...

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    Statistically speaking, Tennessee’s offense (third in total offense in the SEC, 22nd nationally) is the best unit that Alabama will have seen thus far.

    Bray and the offense have to put pressure on the Tide defense early and avoid Alabama’s recent trend of sinking its opponents into double-digit holes by the end of the first quarter. 

    The defense has to do something—whether it is taking away Alabama’s run game or forcing turnovers—to keep its home crowd involved throughout the game. 

    If the Vols manage to keep the game close heading into the fourth quarter, their task becomes remaining mentally and physically tough enough to overcome its previous woes in the final period against the best team in the country.   

Prediction

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    A few weeks ago, this matchup had all the makings of a potential trap game for the Crimson Tide. 

    While going on the road in the SEC and defeating a rival is never easy, this Alabama team has remained focus and played smart and efficiently all year long. 

    This team has dealt with very little resistance thus far from its opponents, so it will be interesting to see how they would respond if and when they have an off night. 

    However, the Vols have not shown the ability to get over the hump against a Top 5 team in the Dooley-era, and I don’t expect them to reverse that trend this weekend. 

    Prediction:  Alabama 41, Tennessee 17