An update on Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker's status for Alabama matchup

Matt Zenitz10/22/21
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Hendon Hooker has unlocked Tennessee's offense. (Photo courtesy of Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

It appears that Tennessee won’t have to rely on a backup quarterback against No. 4 Alabama. Hendon Hooker is expected to be OK to start against the Crimson Tide, sources told On3.

Hooker left with a lower body injury late in Tennessee’s loss to Ole Miss last week and has been classified as “day-to-day” throughout the week by Vols coach Josh Heupel, but the expectation is that he’ll be able to play Saturday night against the Tide.

Led by Hooker, who replaced Joe Milton as Tennessee’s starting quarterback, the Vols (4-3) lead the SEC in total offense in conference games (511.3 yards per game). Hooker, a Virginia Tech transfer, is second in the SEC in passer rating (179.75) and has accounted for 16 touchdowns (12 passing, four rushing) with no interceptions in his five games as the Vols’ starting quarterback.

During last week’s 31-26 loss to Ole Miss, Hooker threw for 233 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for 108 yards and a score; that was the third-highest rushing total of his career and his highest this season.

Because of Hooker’s dual-threat ability, the Vols’ offense could put some stress on Alabama’s defense, which has struggled at times this season. Florida had success on the ground against the Tide, while Texas A&M threw effectively in its upset of Alabama.

Alabama has won 14 in a row in this annual series. In addition, the Tide has won 57 of its its past 59 games at home and 32 in a row against SEC East opponents.

Tennessee enters the matchup as a 25-point underdog.