The Vols are just two wins away from making their first bowl game since 2010, and Alabama coach Nick Saban has noticed the strides taken by Tennessee, which is the Tide’s opponent Saturday.
“Tennessee is emerging as a very good football team in the last two weeks,” Saban said. “I think Butch Jones has done an outstanding job there. When a team improves like they’ve improved, it’s always a sign of good coaching, good coaching staff and a lot of people doing a very, very good job.”
Jones said he sees Alabama as the standard to live up to in college football. During his Monday news conference, Jones told reporters he is out to build a program like the Tide’s. Jones also said the Tide has no weaknesses.
“They have depth everywhere across the board, from special teams to offense to defense,” Jones said. “They are very physical, they play with great effort, they are technically sound. They just don’t rely on their abilities. They are fundamentally sound. You have a quarterback who can make all the throws, he is in control, big imposing offensive line
“I think where they have really taken great strides offensively is they have great perimeter skill and speed.”
SABAN ON SEC UPSETS: This past Saturday produced multiple upsets, particularly in the Southeastern Conference. LSU, Georgia, South Carolina, Florida and Texas A&M all lost to underdog conference opponents and seemingly shifted the power of the league.
“It’s no surprise to me that there’s a little bit of a changing of the guard this year,” Saban said. “That’s why when people talk about scheduling and imbalances in scheduling, they make the assumptions that certain teams are always good.”
Saban said the parity “speaks to the very good coaching, very good programs, that we have from top to bottom in this league.”
Safety Landon Collins said the team is working extra hard to avoid falling victim to an upset.
“It can happen to anybody,” Collins said. “It can happen on any given Saturday. So you always got to have your A game. You never know what team’s gonna bring it and what’s gonna happen on each given play.”
INJURY UPDATE: Saban said center Ryan Kelly will be a “full go” this week of practice. Kelly has missed the past three and a half games after going down in the second quarter against Ole Miss. Saban said the team will monitor Kelly and “how he progresses through the course of the week.”
Chad Lindsay has filled in for Kelly, and Saban said “we have a lot of confidence in both of those players.”
Cornerback Bradley Sylve (high ankle sprain) did not participate in practice. Sylve wore a black non-contact jersey and rode a stationary bike. Saban said Sylve will be day-to-day. Sylve has started the past two games.
True freshman running back Altee Tenpenny (turf toe) also wore a black non-contact jersey and rode a station bike during practice. Saban said he is day-to-day as well. Tenpenny is a key player on special teams.