It should be noted that whatever happens on Saturday, Tennessee still has its Big Upset of 2013. This is important, because while the rest of the SEC we expected to be good lost last week, Alabama beat Arkansas 52-0. Incidentally, this was only 7 points worse than Arkansas' loss against South Carolina, so by that standard this should be a 5-point game, at which point anything can happen. Right?
- Look, it's probably safe to assume the Alabama Death Star is fully operational at this point. Texas A&M excepted, Alabama's defense hasn't given up more than 280 yards total all season and the offense hasn't been held below 430 yards since Colorado State. Whatever early-season weaknesses Alabama had have been wiped away, and the totals over the last four games (offense: 434, 477, 668, 532; defense: 205, 175, 170, 256) don't really give anyone room for much hope.
- But what about yards per play, you say? Good job, you've been listening this season. Offense: 6,03, 7.45, 8.35, 6.72; defense: 3.60, 3.98, 3.27, 4.00. Yeah, sorry. But you've been listening!
- AJ McCarron is roughly the guy we've expected: 8.7 yards per attempt, 26 attempts per game, 14 TD, 3 INT, 69.2% completion percentage. Those numbers aren't explosive, but they are dangerous. McCarron's a little bit better than the usual fare - your John Parker Wilsons, your Brodie Croyles, your [insert average-ish Alabama QB dating back to time immemorial] - which means he needs to be accounted for appropriately. I wouldn't expect him treating Tennessee like a dog treats a chew toy this year, though (if only because Cam Sutton is really good, and yes that's a true freshman I'd put up against a lot of guys, and I don't care if I'm jumping the gun on that a little bit.
- Hey, go figure, the Alabama running game is a two-headed attack. I know, you're shocked. Those two heads this season: TJ Yeldon (100 car, 6.6 yards per attempt, 7 TD) and Kenyan Drake (48 car, 8.2 yards per attempt, 7 TD, the unfortunate fact of sharing a last name with a rapper who kind of isn't any good). Oh, and of course the change-of-pace backup - Derrick Henry - is averaging close to 11 yards a carry and a bunch of garbage-time backs have picked up some usage as well. Why, do you ask? Well, when you've played one game that's within 4 scores, your backups to the backups get some extra touches.
- While Amari Cooper gets a fair chunk of the press, there are four guys (counting Cooper) worth being aware of: DeAndrew White (20 rec, 15 yards per catch, 3 TD), Christion Jones (26 rec, 10.6 yards per catch, 2 TD), Kevin Norwood (17 rec, 13.9 yards per catch, 2 TD), and Cooper (15 rec, 15.3 yards per catch, 1 TD). That's a long-winded way of saying Jones is a possession receiver type while the rest of them are somewhat interchangeable. That being said, three guys doing close to equal stuff presents all kinds of matchup problems.
- It's probably safe to assume whatever ailed the offensive line against Virginia Tech has been corrected.
- Another year, another effective phenom on the defensive line for Alabama; this time, it's A'Shawn Robinson (the older brother of B'Shawn Robinson; try the veal) with 4 sacks and 5 tackles for loss on the season. Incidentally, Alabama hasn't done the best job of getting behind the line, averaging 5 TFL on the season.
- Nick Saban is taking the Oakland Raiders job at the end of the year. Spoilers!
- Of course, you don't need TFL to be suffocating, and CJ Mosley has beee approximately everywhere and a half this season, doubling up on total tackles. Ha'sean Clinton-Dix (or Ha Ha, or Ha-HA! if you're The Continental) has 29 and Verne Lundquist will spend at least 25 minutes talking about him. Ha-Ha's back, by the way. Ha-HA!
- Vinnie Sunseri isn't, though, so bad news for everyone who wanted to take out some aggression on a spare Sunseri that happened to be lying around.
- Neat note: Landon Collins has 23 solo tackles and 5 assisted tackles on the season. That's a man on an island making do with what he has.
- 32 passes broken up, 6 INT, and 2 pick-sixes from the departed Vinnie Sunseri, further proof that if you put a Sunseri around defense, someone's gonna score.
- Seriously, that's a lot of pass breakups, and that's right about on par - typically, it's about a 5-to-1 ratio of breakups to interceptions (make your own Greek joke in the comments), and it's probably safe to assume that the Bama secondary will have their due, insane Mar'Quez North catches excepted. (One more for the road? One more for the road.)
- Because nothing in life is fair, the possession receiver Christion Jones is the chief return threat and has returned both a punt and a kickoff back for a TD. (Thanks, Beamerball.) Also, Cody Mandell is one of the best punters in the nation, because again, not fair.
- Want to know Alabama's weakness? Here it is: