It was a very difficult game to watch from a Tennessee perspective. Finally, the third Saturday in October really meant something to people other than Alabama and Tennessee fans. And then this...

Tennessee, is a good Football team. It has simply been decimated by injuries this year. Credit an excellent coaching job by Butch Jones, his staff and a group of players who are all-in with the Vols being 5-2 at this point. Despite the complete beat down by Alabama, Tennessee is still in the midst of a heated race for the SEC East crown.

Tennessee needs a bye week to heal

Unfortunately, it didn't occur a game earlier in the schedule.

You can't say that the Vols would have beaten Alabama had they been at least reasonably healthy--likely not--but they would have had a much better showing. Just before kickoff, the Vols injury list was:

  • DB - Malik Foreman
  • DB - Cameron Sutton
  • OL - Dylan Wiesman
  • OL - Jashon Robertson
  • LB - Jalen Reeves - Maybin - leading tackler last two seasons
  • LB - Darrin Kirkland
  • LB - Cortez McDowell
  • LB - Quarte' Sapp
  • DL - Danny O'Brien -- Dismissed from team
  • WR - Preston Williams -- Left team

The seven players highlighted were starters when they were injured. The other three had seen significant minutes this season.

Of the fifteen starting players from last year's team who were also starters this year, seven are currently injured.

The following is the Alabama injury report just before kickoff:

  • QB - Blake Barnett - Left team

That's it. The other two players who were on the list previously--R. Foster, A. Taylor--both played. Not only has Alabama had the number one recruiting ranking in college football the past six years in a row, they have the good fortune to be completely healthy right now.

On the bright side, Tennessee gets two weeks off before they meet the South Carolina Gamecocks in Columbia on October 29.

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They then get a home game with Tennessee Tech before the next SEC contest with Kentucky, also at home. So, if this team is going to get healthy it should happen within the next four weeks.

Football is a go with what you got sport

Simply said, injuries are not an excuse coaches are allowed to use for a loss. If a player gets injured it's next man up and keep on keepin' on. But, I'm not the coach here so I can point it out. However, my limited coaching experience--though at a much lower level--says that injuries to key players do make a difference.

In a case like the Volunteers are this year, it makes a very big difference.

The rest of the 2016 schedule is very favorable for the Vols. It would not surprise anyone to see them reel off five straight wins to finish the regular season at 10-2. If so, they could find themselves facing this same Alabama team again in the SEC Championship Game.

Should another shot at Alabama in the title game become reality, I doubt that a healthy Tennessee could beat an Alabama that played as well as they did today in Knoxville.

Even completely healthy, the Tennessee offensive line has been a disappointment this year. That was demonstrated over and over in the game today.

Getting back some of the missing dynamic defensive players would likely make a big difference in the Alabama scoring in a rematch. However, that doesn't answer for the lack of ability to move the ball on the Vol's side. True, a couple more UT players did go down along the offensive line today. But, the Vols weren't moving the ball before they were hurt, either.

It would be interesting to see what the Tennessee staff could do to offset the obvious talent difference up front on offense if the defense were at full strength as well. Few people other than Tennessee fans think a rematch would be much of a game. I agree, unless the Vols were able to get healthy again. In that case I think the game would be entertaining.

A Tennessee win wouldn't be completely out of the question, either.

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