Shout Bama Lama

Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Tennessee Volunteers
Saturday 22 October 2011 | 7:15 pm EDT
Bryant-Denny Stadium | Tuscaloosa, AL | ESPN2
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Getting a read on Saturday’s game in Tuscaloosa is rather easy and rather difficult at the same time.

Let’s start with the easy part.

Alabama RB Trent Richardson is already NFL-ready. He might become the Tide's second Heisman Trophy winner in three years before he moves on to playing on Sundays.

Alabama rank first in the nation (FBS) in points per game allowed: 7.0. That’s it. Seven points per game.

Alabama rank first in the nation in total yards allowed per game (184).

Alabama rank first in the nation in rushing yards allowed – a total of 267 rushing yards allowed in seven games.

Alabama rank a respectable 14th in the nation in points scored per game (40). That means their average score so far in seven games is ‘Bama 40 – Opponent 7. Average.

Running back sensation Trent Richardson ranks second nationally in yards rushing (888), and fifth in the nation in rushing yards per game (127). His average per carry is a healthy 6.7 yards.

The Tide average nearly 7 yards per play and give up only an overage of 3 yards per play. They have an 88% red zone success rate (34 trips to the red zone), allowing opponents only a 67% success rate – their opponents have been in the red zone only 9 times in 7 games.

Alabama has shut out two opponents so far this season: North Texas State (41-0) and Vanderbilt (34-0). The most points scored against the Tide defense was 14 put up by Arkansas’ high-powered offense. Other than the Alabama game, the least number of points scored by the Razorbacks this season is 38 against both Troy and Auburn. They’ve scored over 50 points twice.

Tennessee has handily defeated the teams of lesser quality (Montana, Cincinnati, and Buffalo) and has been defeated fairly easily by SEC opponents (Florida, Georgia, and LSU).

The Vols have little in the way of a rushing game against SEC opponents (remember, Alabama have allowed an average of only 38 rushing yards per game).

The Vols have no passing threat.

The game is in Tuscaloosa.

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Now for the hard part.

We will need a whole bunch of this on Saturday.

The game is in Tuscaloosa. How did Tennessee hold “Bama to only 12 points in 2009? In Tuscaloosa? The Vols defense looked gassed at the half after having been out possessed 18 minutes to 12. Well, their QB Greg McElroy had a pretty bad day. Also, even though the Tide were much more effective with Mark Ingram running out of the wildcat set than the base set, Alabama ran the wildcat only twice in the second half. It was a very strange game, down to the very unfortunate last play.

With the exception of Penn State, it can be argued that Alabama hasn’t faced a defense as good as that of the current Tennessee team. Kent State, North Texas, Arkansas, Vandy (a pretty good one), Ole Miss, and yes even Florida. The Vol defense could cause ‘Bama some significant challenges. Throw in some Tide turnovers (they’ve lost 3 fumbles and 4 INTs) and it could be more interesting.

OK, I’m really stretching things a bit here. But if you have no hope, you’re hopeless.

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Do the Vols have hope for Saturday’s annual affair with their biggest rival who may be not only the best team in the land so far this season, but one of the very best teams of the last 10 years?

It's always fun to dig up the memories every October. (By the way, this fantastic picture was taken by the all-time great sports photographer, Walter Iooss, Jr.)

A wise man once said that hope is not a strategy. But without hope, you have no viable plan for victory. It is the hopeful mind that a player for an underdog team must infuse with a will to win. In situations such as this, it is optimism that allows confidence to manifest that is an absolute necessity for a David to have a shot at a Goliath.

I don’t sense that Matt Simms has that kind of confidence. If he doesn’t have it, then the rest of the offense isn’t going to have it. That’s the power a quarterback can have on his offense.

So, hope on Saturday comes down to Tennessee’s ever-improving defense and special teams. To a healthy extent, I believe in this Vols defense. Yes, they bled to death in the second half as Derek Dooley so aptly characterized  last week’s beatdown. Perhaps this week is the time when they can actually make something happen in the form of multiple turnovers. The kick coverage and return games are looking promising. They will be needed in a huge way.

But, in a close, defensive struggle, Tennessee will likely need a dependable FG kicker to keep it within reach. Michael Palardy looks like he is in a physio-mental funk. He has surprisingly turned into a significant weak link. No confidence there until I’m proved wrong.

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I’ve had moments once again this week where my optimistic, wild-natured right brain has gone off the deep end while remembering a few dominant performances by the Vols in this most cherished rivalry. But in the end, it’s more of the same. We’ll have our moments early, but eventually the Vols will once again get physically dominated as fatigue sets in.

The only realistic hope I have is for Tennessee to do better than ‘Bama’s average 40-7 scoreline.

Keep hope (for that) alive. Tennessee will beat the spread (barely).

Alabama 36  Tennessee 10

"I'm getting tired of getting my arse whipped. Plus, my knee hurts. Do you know how hard it is to walk on that treadmill when under water?"

Dance Vols Dance!

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14 responses to “Shout Bama Lama”

  1. rockytop78 says :

    One other strange thing about the 2009, if I recall correctly — Tennessee scored the only touchdown in that game. Not gonna happen this weekend, I’m afraid; rather the opposite, Alabama will be the only team that scores (many) touchdowns on the Fourth Saturday in October:

    Alabama 45, Tennessee 6.

    The only reason that I don’t predict a higher score for Bama is that they will spend so much time running the football down UT’s throat they won’t be able to score more. (At least, that’s my hope.)

    • norcalvol says :

      You are correct about the 2009 game. Bama was up 12-3 when Tennessee scored the game’s only TD with only a minute left in the game. Then the recovered onsides kick, and then the (un)forgettable FGA involving Lincoln and Cody. A wild last few minutes.

      I also think this could be a fast game with regard to actual calendar time – run, run, run with… woah, just had an earthquake (not major)… not so many clock stoppages.

  2. scoop says :

    I have made many trips to the state of Alabama to watch the Vols play. Unfortunately, I never saw them win a game down there. No use going this year!! Alabama 42 TN 13

  3. tk says :

    well fred im sure will check this out for me……how long has it been since tennessee was shutout? it may be more recent than i think, but come sunday morning it wont have been long……this hurts!!! ROCKY TOP 0—-RED ELEPHANTS 30

  4. orangebobbper says :

    Another slaughter. We cant stretch the field because our quarterback cannot throw it more than 20 or 30 yards. To move against this defense will be a major nightmare for our offense. Our only hope is that Ala is looking forward to LSU but not likely. Alabama 42 TN 7

  5. Billy (CW) Smart says :

    Well. Alabama is probably the best team in the SEC now. And seeing as how they got creamed by LSU and Florida, this probably a very tough game. I would like to say a Vol victory. Unfortunately that is not the case. Alabama 37, Tennessee 10.

  6. Sandy Smart says :

    If you thought last week was bad, this is going to be even worse. Tide rolls and rolls and rolls…

    Red Team – 35
    Orange Team – 0

    The only chance for the Vols to score will be on special teams.

    Bama will only score 35 because they eat up so much clock.

    If the Vols turn the ball over, it will be worse.

    My left brain has taken over :(

  7. tk says :

    sandrew……..can a curve just bottom out and become a straight line??????????
    bertrum and dw i believe have given up on this team…….wont even submit predictions anymore!!!!!!!

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