Top 4 Questions Facing The Tide Entering Tennessee Week
Alabama takes on Tennessee this Saturday as the two schools renew their annual rivalry. The Crimson Tide is riding high on a four game winning streak after defeating Georgia last season 41-24. The Vols are looking to bounce back after losing its last two games to SEC East opponents Georgia and Kentucky.
With things going so well for the Crimson Tide so far, what are the biggest questions facing Alabama entering this weekend?
1. How will Alabama respond after an emotional win?
Most of the offseason hype surrounded this past weekend's game against the Georgia Bulldogs. The Tide took care of its business dispatching the No. 3 ranked team in the nation 41-24 at home after posting a second half shut out.
Is this Crimson Tide team mature enough to not suffer a let down week after such a big win?
"I don’t know how they’re gonna handle it," said Nick Saban this week. "Hypothetical questions, I don’t have a crystal ball. I hope they have enough maturity to handle it the way they need to, but we won’t know until we practice all week and until we see how they play in the game.”
Alabama enters this game as a 21-point favorite but Tennessee has the tools to keep this game close if the Tide is not ready to play.
2. Can Alabama continue the defense from last week's second half?
Last week's matchup saw the defense seem to turn a corner. The Tide forced two turnovers, held Georgia to zero points and only allowed the Bulldogs to convert on 2-for-7 3rd down attempts.
Did the Alabama defense figure out something that the unit can carry into the rest of the year?
Time will tell but Tennessee's quarterback Jarrett Guarantano has already thrown three interceptions this year, two returned for touchdowns. As an entire offense the Vols have converted on 25% of its 3rd down attempts this year.
This game could serve as a momentum building contest for the Crimson Tide defense.
3. Will Mac Jones keep his 400-yard passing streak alive?
Mac Jones has thrown for 400+ yards in each of the last three weeks, can he keep it going against the Volunteers this weekend?
Tennessee ranks third in the SEC in passing defense, having only given up 853 yards this season, good for 213 yards per game. However, the Vols have not seen a passing offense on the level of the Crimson Tide's this season.
If the game is somewhat close, expect Jones to stay in the contest and continue to toss the ball to his three explosive wide receivers, but if the Tide has the game well in hand perhaps Jones will be pulled in favor of freshman Bryce Young.
4. Will Saban keep his undefeated streak against former assistants alive?
Nick Saban is a perfect 22-0 against former assistant coaches. Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt presents the last of four former assistants on the regular season scheduled.
Pruitt was able to keep last year's contest much closer than many originally expected but does he have the talent to keep up with the Crimson Tide in 2020.
He fired his defensive line coach after this past weekend's loss to Kentucky and seems to be feeling the pressure in Knoxville to turn his recruiting success into on field wins. Can Saban make it 14 consecutive victories over the Tennessee Vols and add to the pressure that his former assistant is feeling?