When Tennessee takes on Alabama Saturday in Neyland there will be many questions answered. Could UT shut down Bama’s offense? Were the Vols able to do anything offensively ? Did things get ugly when it came to the return of Lane Kiffin to Knoxville?
Tennessee has a good chance to control Alabama’s offense early in the game, but can they avoid the same results as last week against Mississippi in the late first half and second half of last week’s game.
The big questions defensively for UT is can Cam Sutton shut down the Tide’s Amari Cooper like he did Laquon Treadwell last week. Also can A.J. Johnson and the front seven get the same pressure on Blake Sims as they did Bo Wallace? Possibly the biggest question is how long can the Vols slow down Bama and keep the game close.
Cam Sutton had an amazing game last week and he held Treadwell to just 43 yards on only four catches. He spent most of last Saturday in man on man coverage, which is how fans are likely to see him against Bama’s Amari Cooper some on Saturday.
Sutton has been Tennessee’s best choice in man coverage since arriving in Knoxville and becoming a Freshman All-American last season. Sutton has picked up where he left off last year leading the Vols talented defense in passes intercepted with three picks on the season. Sutton might be able to handle Cooper when given the chance in man coverage.
However that may not be the best approach by the Vols on Saturday. Arkansas is the only team to shut down Cooper on a consistent basis this season. Arkansas did this by double teaming Cooper with a corner and a safety, and bracketing him in coverage. This is the strategy Tennessee may chose to use themselves. If so don’t expect to see much of Sutton vs. Cooper as Cam will see lots of man to man situations on Bama’s other receivers.
Also for the Vols to have any real chance on Saturday they will need to see a repeat of last week’s performances form A.J. Johnson, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, and Derek Barnett. Those three helped to give Bo Wallace fits in the first half last week in Oxford. Barnett (FR) recorded his first ever double digit tackle game for the Big Orange. A.J. was dominant as always as he leads the Vols with 78 total tackles.
The Vols face their toughest task to date on Saturday, will they be up to the task?
Edited by Will Lomas
Sam Forman is the lead sports staff writer for the Tennessee Journalist and is a senior studying Journalism and Electronic Media with a focus on sports broadcasting and reporting. He has been with TNJN since the fall of 2014. He is also a DJ for WUTK 90.3 fm. and a member of the Rock Solid Sports team. Sam has spent six years marching in the Pride of The Southland Marching Band. When he is not covering or talking sports, you can find him outdoors, playing music or hanging out with friends. You can find him on twitter: @samWforman