One week after their huge win over #3 Georgia, the #2 Alabama Crimson Tide had some worry about a hangover. On Saturday, Alabama traveled to Knoxville to take on their SEC East rivals in the Tennessee Volunteers. The Tide knew they would play their best to erase a 13-game losing streak and get their season back on track. From start to finish, Alabama handled Tennessee with a 48-17 score. This win continues to be a statement to the entire SEC as they are getting better on defense. They are showing that they are getting more crafty on the offensive side of the ball. Alabama continues to show their elite progress as a College Football Playoff contender. They will have to do it without one of their star wide receivers in Jaylen Waddle, who broke his ankle in the first kickoff return of the game.
The Offense Continues To Fire On All Cylinders
Even without Waddle, the offense for the Tide were making huge plays and finding the endzone. The Tide were able to score 14 points in each of the first, second, and third quarter. Alabama accounted for 587 total yards against Tennessee including 417 yards in the passing game. The Tide were 7-for-12 on third-down conversions and were 7-for-7 in the red zone. Running back Najee Harris rushed for 96 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries. Quarterback Mac Jones rushed for a touchdown late in the first quarter and running back Brian Robinson Jr. rushed for a touchdown in the second quarter. Jones passed for 387 yards and a quarterback rating of 25 completions (out of 31 passing attempts). Jones was once again highly efficient in his throws against the Volunteers secondary.
The loss of Waddle was hard for the Crimson Tide to deal with the entire game. John Metchie III lead the Tide in yards accounted for (175) on seven receptions. DeVonta Smith caught seven receptions on 10 targets for 73 yards. Harris was very instrumental in the passing game as he caught six receptions for 61 yards. Sophomore wide receiver Slade Bolden stepped up in the replacement as flex/slot receiver Waddle’s injury. Bolden caught six receptions for 94 yards. Last season, Bolden caught two receptions for 34 yards. This was his first game of the season where he accounted for a statistic.
Tide’s Defense Improves Significantly
Earlier in the season, the Tide’s defense underperformed at a disappointing level especially with a defense coached by head coach Nick Saban. Against Tennessee, Aalabama were much more efficient in stopping the run and passing game. The Tide held the Volunteers to 302 total yards allowed with 163 of them coming from the passing game. Tennessee’s offense accounted for 139 rushing yards on 38 carries for an average of 3.7 yards per carry. Alabama held Tennessee to an avenge of 4.8 yards per play. The Volunteers only converted 4-of-16 on third downs.
Among some of the top performances for the Tide’s defense was cornerback Patrick Surtain II, who accounted for four solo tackles, three pass breakups, and one tackle for loss. Linebacker Christian Harris led the team in total tackles accounted for with 10. The defense for the Tide accounted for eight tackles for loss against the Volunteers offense. Star Malachi Moore recovered a fumble for a 28-yard touchdown at the beginning of the third quarter. There were fewer opportunities for the offense to create mismatches on the Tide’s defense than in the past couple of weeks. They still have more work to do to make sure they will eliminate those opportunities in the future against more efficient offenses.