Tennessee's 12th Man May Be Key Player

Who is Tennessee's key player in tonight's critical showdown with Alabama, Casey Clausen, Kelley Washington, Jabari Davis, or is it someone on defense like Rashad Moore or Julian Battle, or a special team's player like Alex Walls?

Well all of these players will play a key role in the Volunteers' atttempt to run their winning streak to eight straight, but the pick here is Tennessee's 12th man, the Neyland Stadium crowd.

It's not news that Tennessee's home crowd provides a lift for the team, but the involvement of Big Orange faithful is at times sporadic. It seems like the better the Vols are the less involved the crowd is. Perhaps Vol fans figure if Tennessee is rated in the top five and are contending for the national title they don't need much help.

However this Tennessee team is doing neither, and seems to lose focus at times while playing down to the competition. It is a squad that needs an emotional boost that can only be provided by the 107,000-plus partisan crowd. For sure the Crimson Tide contigent will be in place and in fine form anticipating a victory and the end of The Streak.

That may be the spur UT's masses need to get involved from the beginning and to stay involved to the end. That type of commitment could be significant because just like the series has been one of streaks the last half century, the games usually entail a lot of ebb and flow.

Vol fans can't sit on their hands and wait for the Big Orange to do something good before they get excited. They need to make things happen by being loud and proud.

The anticipation here is they will be because this is the first big home game of the year other than the Florida contest, which was played in a monsoon and one that saw the Vols fall behind 24-0 in the first half.

Tennessee may find itself down early in tonight's contest as Alabama is sure to come out with a lot of emotional fire, but the Vols can come back and win especially if the home crowd gets behind them stays there.

This is a match up that looks even on paper and the most significant advantage is the home crowd. Tennessee's 12th man could wind up being the game's MVP.


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