Just like Tennessee Football, Alabama is built entirely different from the way it was last year when the Vols and Crimson Tide matchup was basically a duel between Hendon Hooker and Bryce Young. With ball control returning to both programs, here are the five key Bama players in Saturday’s matchup.
5. Chris Braswell
Obviously, Nick Saban’s history with Alabama is one that always involves elite edge rushers. Chris Braswell is no Will Anderson Jr., but the Vols don’t have any Darnell Wright this year either. With seven tackles for a loss and four and a half sacks already on the season, UT has to account for him at all times.
4. Jermaine Burton
Technically, Jase McClellan is Bama’s most productive player on offense to this point, but wide receiver Jermaine Burton is clearly the go-to guy, and he’s the deep ball playmaker for Alabama. As a result, it’s clear he’s the most important weapon on offense for UT to focus on, especially given Bama’s reliance on the deep pass. Burton has 19 catches for 446 yards and four touchdowns.
3. Caleb Downs
Joe Milton III has three interceptions the past two games and four in three games of SEC play. Caleb Downs is Alabama’s best playmaker in the secondary at strong safety. He leads the team in tackles with 54 and even solo tackles with 31 along with two interceptions, so if Tennessee Football isn’t watching out for him, they’ll be in trouble.
2. Dallas Turner
Obviously, the Vols are built to run the ball this year behind Cooper Mays and Javontez Spraggins. Jaylen Wright is their key back. Central to stopping that will be linebacker Dallas Turner. For the year, Turner leads the team with nine and a half tackles for a loss and seven sacks. UT’s run game and Milton will always have to watch out for him.
1. Jalen Milroe
No surprise here. Alabama may not have Young, but Tommy Rees and Saban are figuring out how to use Jalen Milroe at quarterback now. His deep ball accuracy is becoming a deadly weapon, and he’s got a ton of mobility, so he’ll be the most unique test Tennessee Football has faced at the position all year.