As Johnson goes, so goes the Tide defense

Averaging more than 419 yards of total offense per game, Alabama enters Saturday's game as the SEC's third-ranked offensive team. But if the Tide is to break Tennessee's seven-game winning streak, the job will be done on defense. And senior defensive tackle Jarret Johnson will be key.

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Johnson, 6-4, 287 pounds, is slightly undersized for his position, but since the middle of last season he has become the emotional leader of the Tide defense. Like every other current member of the Bama squad, Johnson has never defeated a Volunteer team. And he has been outspoken in explaining that winning in Knoxville is one of his chief goals.

Jarret Johnson (#96) watches the action on the JumboTron on the Tide sideline.

For that to happen, the Tide must get pressure on Tennessee's quarterback, something that Johnson and his line-mates have done well recently. The Crimson Tide recorded three sacks (-38 yards) against Ole Miss and Eli Manning last week, equaling the most sacks against the junior quarterback this season. Prior to Saturday's game, Manning had only been sacked four times the entire season.

With those three sacks against Ole Miss, Alabama has retaken the lead in the SEC with 24 sacks (-185 yards) in seven games. Georgia is second with 23. No other league team has more than 18. The Tide is averaging 4.0 sacks per game.

Johnson himself is credited with three sacks and 25 tackles, second best in both categories for the Tide defensive line. But with a fiery personality and extremely competitive nature, as Johnson goes---so goes the Bama defense.

If Johnson and the Bama D-Line can duplicate last week's performance and pressure the UT quarterback consistently, then the Crimson Tide has an excellent chance to break the streak. If not, it could be a long day in Knoxville.

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