3 things to know as Alabama football looks to continue winning streak vs. Tennessee Vols

Brett Hudson
Tide Sports

Having succeeded in each of its last six tries, Alabama football will travel to Knoxville, Tennessee, trying to light victory cigars.

The game is scheduled to kick off at 2:30 p.m. CT on Saturday. 

Here are three things to know going into the Crimson Tide’s game against the Volunteers.

Mac Jones near historic start

Through four games, Mac Jones is completing 78.3% of his passes over 115 attempts. If he maintains that completion percentage through his trip to Knoxville, while attempting at least 25 passes, he would be just the fourth quarterback since 2000 to complete 78% or greater of his passes through the first five games of a season with a minimum of 140 attempts.

Two of the three others to do it won the Heisman trophy: Joe Burrow (LSU) in 2019 and Robert Griffin III (Baylor) in 2011. The other was Geno Smith (West Virginia) in 2012.

Betting odds:What is the No. 2 Alabama vs. Tennessee Vols football betting line, over/under?

Tennessee’s disruptive defense

Alabama running back Najee Harris (22) tries to break a tackle by a Tennessee  defender during the Crimson Tide's 35-13 victory in Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]

The Volunteers don’t boast a dominant defense — 26th in the nation in yards per play allowed, 54th in third-down defense — but they have been creating enough havoc to make life difficult for opposing offenses. Linebacker Henry To’o To’o is tied for second in the SEC with five tackles for a loss, and linebacker Deandre Johnson is second in the SEC with 3.5 sacks. Johnson’s number is good enough to crack the top 20 nationally, with nine of the 15 players ahead of him having played at least one more game, in some cases two more.

Tennessee is also one of just 27 teams in the nation to average a forced fumble per game.

Jaylen Waddle near 2,000 yards

Alabama receiver Jaylen Waddle is 35 yards from becoming just the eighth UA player with 2,000 receiving yards. If he has 105 against the Volunteers (he's averaging 139), he’ll pass Ozzie Newsome for seventh in school history in career receiving yards.

Waddle got to this point by making the most of his bigger role in the offense. After just 560 receiving yards last year, Waddle has 557 through four games this season. Opportunity was bound to come for Waddle with Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III in the NFL. DeVonta Smith has more catches, 38 to Waddle’s 25, but Waddle has taken his catches for 557 yards compared to Smith’s 483.

Waddle is the only player in the nation with two catches of more than 80 yards and is tied for fifth in the nation with eight catches of 20 yards or more.

Reach Brett Hudson at 205-722-0196 or bhudson@tuscaloosanews.com or via Twitter, @Brett_Hudson