- Edward Aschoff, ESPN Staff Writer
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Greetings from Neyland Stadium!
The sun isn't really out, but the weather is just about perfect here. Tailgates were going hard for the Third Saturday in October.
Not a lot of people are giving Tennessee a chance in today's matchup with No. 1 Alabama, but don't sleep on the Vols' passing attack. The Tide's secondary came into the season younger and less experienced than last year's unit, and it really hasn't been tested this season. Now, the play up front has been a big reason, but this is easily the best passing game Alabama has faced to this point.
Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray is passing for almost 300 yards a game and leads the SEC with 16 touchdown passes. He also has Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson to work with out there. Don't be surprised if he makes a few plays early on this secondary.
The key for Tennessee's offense is balance. If the Vols can't run the ball, Bray won't be able to be as affective throwing the ball against this swarming Alabama defense. That'll be tough for the Vols with running back dealing with an ankle injury. He's been listed as doubtful this whole week and hasn't done much during warmups. That leads Devrin Young and Marlin Lane to carry the load. Young and Lane have combined for 301 rushing yards compared to Lane's 500 on the season.
Alabama hasn't had to be flashy this year, and expect that again tonight. This team feeds off its running game and just pounds teams in the second half. Now, AJ McCarron might have the opportunity to throw it around a bit with Tennessee's defense reeling right now. McCarron has the ability to stretch the field, and he might get to more tonight.
Tennessee coach Derek Dooley will also be coaching down on the field today after hip surgery. He won't be moving around a lot, but he'll be down there.