5 things to know about the Tennessee Vols

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The Tennessee Volunteers are one of the Crimson Tide’s most hated rivals. For many people, beating Tennessee is more important than beating in-state rival Auburn.

I am one of those people. I can’t help but be reminded of former Tennessee head coach, and later athletics director Philip Fulmer diverting an NCAA investigation into his own program toward Alabama.

This lead to the uncovering of violations by the Crimson Tide, which the Vols were likely just as guilty of, that put the program on probation for five years and a two-year postseason ban for providing impermissible benefits to recruits.

But, I’m not here to dwell on the past. I’m here to give you five things we should know before the Crimson Tide takes the field against the Volunteers on Saturday.

5. Tennessee has a high-powered offense

First-year Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel has wasted no time installing his coaching philosophy in Knoxville.

The Volunteers rank fourth in the conference in total offense, averaging 473 yards per game.

They can also put up some points, averaging just a tick over 39 points per game over the course of the season, so far.

While this isn’t the first high-velocity offense the Crimson Tide will face this year, it’s certainly the most unique variation.

4. The Vols haven't beaten Alabama in 15 years

This is a statistic I love to see. Tennessee hasn’t beaten the Crimson Tide in 15 years, and the closest they’ve come is in 2009, when they were still led by now-Ole Mis head coach Lane Kiffin.

To have a bitter rival that you just can’t beat must be hard. As Alabama fans, we don’t really know how that feels, especially recently.

I can’t imagine how painful it will be for them on Saturday if Alabama continues to dominate the series.

3. Tennessee fans are very passionate

Every team in the SEC has those fans that are very passionate and impatient for success. When your team hasn’t done anything meaningful in awhile, some fans have a tendency to become testy.

During their game last week against Ole Miss, Tennessee made their displeasure for officiating well known by throwing debris of all sorts onto the field. Items tossed included water bottles, beer cans, golf balls and mustard containers.

While the officiating was poor, fans have to know that littering the field with trash is unacceptable behavior.

2. The Vols' defense did very well against Ole Miss

You won’t find the Volunteers near the top of the rankings in terms of total defense, but if you watched their game against Ole Miss last Saturday you’ll notice that they actually played great.

They kept Matt Corral mostly in check through the air, allowing just 55% of completions in the game. Through the rest of the season, Corral was hitting on nearly 70% of his passes.

This is something that can’t be ignored. Tennessee played a great game in the secondary, and it could be said that without Corral’s 195 rushing yards, the Vols would’ve beaten Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss.

Bryce Young and the rest of the Alabama offense will need to be at the top of their game against an opponent that nobody is taking seriously.

1. UT QB Hendon Hooker is pretty good

If one thing can be said about Heupel, it’s that he knows how to utilize the talent provided to him.

Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker is a very good player, and he has shown improvement week after week since taking over the reins.

Speaking of taking over the reins, Hooker has led Tennessee to a 2-1 record with lopsided wins over South Carolina and Missouri by a combined score of 107-44. Had it not been for a couple of bad calls late, Hooker might have led the Vols to a win against their former head coach and current Ole Miss head man Lane Kiffin.

All in all, Alabama’s defense will have their hands full against Hooker in Heupel’s offense, if he’s able to play after being labeled day-to-day due to an injury suffered in last week’s contest.

You can watch Alabama square off against Tennessee at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN.

Contact/Follow us @RollTideWire on Twitter, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Alabama news, notes and opinion. You can also follow Layne Gerbig on Twitter @LayneG_29.

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