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Behind Enemy Lines: The Daily Beacon’s Tyler Wombles talks Third Saturday in October

Photo courtesy of Tyler Wombles

Matthew Speakman

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Alabama and Tennessee will meet for the 100th time, with Alabama leading the series 54-38-7. The Crimson Tide has dominated the series as of late, winning every matchup since 2006. This season, Alabama remains undefeated, while Tennessee has had its ups and downs. To get more insight on the Volunteers, we talked to Tyler Wombles, the sports editor of The Daily Beacon, Tennessee’s student-led newspaper. Here is what he had to say:

Q: What are the feelings surrounding Butch Jones and the state of the program on campus?

A: A lot of Tennessee fans are disappointed in how this season has gone so far, and for good reason. The Vols’ offense has been abysmal the last few weeks and hasn’t shown signs of improvement. Butch Jones is on the hot seat and it doesn’t appear to be getting any cooler. There’s a lot of tension right now around the situation, which will only intensify if Alabama truly has its way with Tennessee on Saturday.

Q: What are the expectations surrounding Jarrett Guarantano after his first start? Are people happy that Tennessee made the change to him?

A: I think most fans feel pleased with Guarantano as the starting quarterback. Many were calling for him while Dormady was starting, and he didn’t play poorly against South Carolina. He still has a long way to go as far as experience and comfort on the field go. However, his ability to hurt defenses with both his arm and his legs, similar to what Josh Dobbs brought to the offense, has the potential to be a game changer for Tennessee.

Q: Do you feel John Kelly is one of the best running backs in the SEC? What challenges does he present?

A: John Kelly’s on-field performance so far this season has shown that he is one of the best running backs in the conference. No team has really proven that they can halt him when he gets enough carries. Kelly has been Tennessee’s most dangerous offensive weapon this season, presenting a hard running style with a workhorse mentality to opponents, and is often the only player on this Vols’ offense that is able to find success during games. 

Q: What are the feelings surrounding this rivalry in Knoxville? Do Tennessee fans consider Alabama their main rivals?

A: Tennessee fans do consider Alabama one of their main rivals, but Alabama’s dominance over every other team in the SEC has given the series less of a must-win feel. Obviously fans want the Vols to defeat the Crimson Tide, but most don’t realistically expect Tennessee to beat Alabama most years, especially this one.

Q: What does Tennessee have to do to beat Alabama this weekend?

A: To have a realistic shot of pulling the upset, the Vols will have to control the clock. Butch Jones must run the ball with Kelly and Guarantano and keep Alabama’s offense on the sideline. If the Vols continually go three-and-out, and allow Alabama a large amount of possession time, this game will get out of hand very quickly.

Q: Finally, give us a score prediction and why you chose that.

A: I predict that Alabama will defeat Tennessee, 60-3. This Vols’ team just hasn’t shown that it can defeat mid-level SEC opponents this year, much less juggernauts. The Vols will score a field goal within the game’s last two minutes during garbage time, but won’t compete with Alabama at all throughout the length of the contest.

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Behind Enemy Lines: The Daily Beacon’s Tyler Wombles talks Third Saturday in October