Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rocky Road Tennessee: High Tide...Low Vols

KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 18: Coach Derek Dooley of the Tennessee Volunteers watches his team in action against the Florida Gators at Neyland Stadium on September 18, 2010 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Florida won 31-17. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
The Tennessee/Alabama football rivalry is one of the preeminent rivalries in all of college athletics.

It has been several years since both schools had “powerhouse” teams during the same season, but the history of the rivalry and what the game means to each fanbase will never change.

The Alabama Crimson Tide enter the 2010 version of this celebrated rivalry as the No. 7 team in the land (6-1, 3-1 SEC), while the Tennessee Volunteers under new coach Derek Dooley…have struggled. The Vols (2-4, 0-3 SEC) are one of the youngest teams in the country and have paid the price this season.

Tennessee has talent, but as a unit…the Vols have been miserable in 2010.

The Vols have been dismantled by Oregon and Georgia, lost at home to Florida and were defeated by LSU in one of the wildest finishes in recent memory.

In respect to victories…Tennessee has defeated Tennessee-Martin and the UAB Blazers. The Vols defeated UAB 32-29…in overtime.

As has been the case since 2008, the only thing Tennessee has to gain in this contest is honest confidence for the remainder of the season and the satisfaction of ruining the SEC and possible national title hopes of Alabama.

The Tennessee Volunteers have absolutely nothing to lose come Saturday night, which is all the more reason Alabama better be ready for anything…and everything.

We all know what happens when you don’t respect the opposition. If Alabama wants to play in Atlanta and possibly Glendale, Arizona…the Crimson Tide will respect Tennessee.

Sep 11, 2010; Knoxville, TN, USA; Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Matt Simms (2) throws a pass during the game against the Oregon Ducks at Neyland Stadium. Oregon defeated Tennessee 48-13. Photo via Newscom
When it comes to the Tennessee offense, the Volunteers are led by quarterback Matt Simms.

Simms has thrown for 1,136 yards thus far in 2010. The Vols leading passer has also thrown a total of seven touchdown passes and four interceptions.

Rumors have been swirling all week that Tyler Bray could see action at the quarterback position against Alabama.

Bray has only attempted 18 passes all season, but was impressive in late game action at Georgia.

On the ground, the Volunteers are led by Tauren Poole. Even though Tennessee is 2-4 on the season, the bright spot has certainly been found in the play of the Vols leading rusher.

Poole has a total of 478 yards this season, including five touchdowns.

KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 18: Ahmad Black  of the Florida Gators tackles Tauren Poole  of the Tennessee Volunteers in the backfield during the first half at Neyland Stadium on September 18, 2010 in Knoxville, Tennessee. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

David Oku and Rajion Neal are quality backs for Tennessee, but the workload has been carried by Poole in 2010.

At the receiver position, the main targets of Matt Simms are Denarius Moore, Justin Hunter, Zach Rogers, Luke Stocker and Gerald Jones.

LEXINGTON, KY - NOVEMBER 28:  Denarius Moore #6  of the Tennessee Volunteers runs with the ball during the SEC game against the Kentucky Wildcats at Commonwealth Stadium on November 28, 2009 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Moore leads the team in total receptions (18) and total receiving yards (257) and also has four touchdowns to his credit.

In respect to the contest with Alabama, look for Moore, Gerald Jones and tight end Luke Stocker to be utilized often. Stocker is a quality player and certainly proved to be a factor against Alabama last season.

The Tennessee offense has the talent to be efficient, but the defense will have to contain Alabama to give the Volunteers a chance to be successful.

Linebacker Nick Reveiz and cornerback Janzen Jackson are talented players, but the Tennessee defensive unit as a whole will have to play sound football if they want to keep Alabama under 30 points.

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