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A game like this was almost expected, the result of Alabama being faced, week after week, with a gauntlet of rested teams, thanks to the SEC office’s inability (or lack of desire) to address unfair scheduling practices.
And in this case, the Crimson Tide nearly paid the price for the circumstances outside its control.
Every season, one or two teams seem to rise above their typical watermarks and give Alabama a tougher game than it would otherwise appear on paper.
Alabama is hoping Ole Miss filled the role in Week 3, but in 2009, that team was Tennessee, then led by a young head coach named Lane Kiffin. It took two blocked field goals by DT Terrence Cody, the second coming as time ran out, for Alabama to hold onto the win and eventually play for a national championship.Continue reading …
Between a heavy concentration of returning starters, improved recruiting and some of the best offensive skill talent in the conference, Tennessee is hoping it can finally lift itself out of the doldrums it’s been in for at least the last eight seasons. Roughly from the time Nick Saban arrived at Alabama, Tennessee has been irrelevant in the SEC. The 2015 Volunteer team is still not perfect; the offensive line, while experienced, wasn’t good in 2014, the defense has some holes up the middle and the book is still out on Butch Jones as both an x’s-and-o’s coach and a program leader. But things are looking up.Continue reading …
If win-loss records were determined by bravado and bull hockey, Tennessee’s Butch Jones would have a team in the national title game every year. Jones has done a good job selling the illusion of improvement, but the Vols had better hope he can continue to recruit well – because success in the present day isn’t coming. Tennessee might have the league’s worst offensive and defensive lines simultaneously, certainly a first for this program and maybe the first for any SEC program not named Vanderbilt. Aside from a few bright spots at receiver and an above-average linebacker corps, Tennessee doesn’t have much. Hitting .500 this season would be a major accomplishment.Continue reading …
For a period of time about 15 years ago or so, the SEC football world revolved around Florida and Tennessee.
Phil Fulmer had built the Volunteers into a powerhouse, putting out NFL players left and right and – at least in years he could get by Steve Spurrier’s Florida team – annually threatening the top of the AP and Coaches’ polls. In addition, Tennessee enjoyed a cozy relationship with the SEC office, and there was little hiding the fact that Tennessee wanted to consign Alabama to the SEC’s second tier, or worse.
Funny what a difference a decade makes.Continue reading …
The Derek Dooley era is over in Knoxville, but the aftereffects of his regime will continue to be felt for at least a couple of years. Tennessee comes into 2013 at a severe talent disadvantage to most of its rivals, and is also both changing its defensive scheme and rebuilding on offense. Were it not for the lucky accident of having the most talented offensive line in the conference, Tennessee would be a candidate to lose 10 or 11 games. As it is, the Volunteers will have to scratch to equal last year’s 5-7 mark, and will need at least two significant upsets to get bowl-eligible. Add to this the uncertainty of just how good new coach Butch Jones really is, and the Vols could be on their way to the SEC East cellar once again.Continue reading …