Three members of the Crimson Tide attempted passes and the only one to find the end zone was a wide receiver, Slade Bolden. Still, the University of Alabama rolled to its 13th consecutive win over Tennessee, 35-13.
Tweet length review of the game
Good news: Now there’s a little intrigue for three otherwise forgettable weeks between the Texas A&M and LSU games. Bad news: Tua Tagovailoa will great overshadow everything happening on the field, practice field or Bryant-Denny Stadium field. For the next 20 days.
Did you know?
• Alabama’s yards per play against Tennessee with Tagovailoa on the field: 8.39. UA’s yards per play after his departure: 5.14. UA ultimately averaged 6.43 yards per play, its worst offensive performance of the season, but not far removed from 6.89 against Texas A&M and 6.56 against Duke.
• Of the six instances of havoc on Tennessee quarterbacks (three sacks and three hurries), four of them were created by Anfernee Jennings and Terrell Lewis. Lewis had two sacks and Jennings added two quarterback hurries to his seven tackles.
• LSU has the top two, but Alabama has three of the top 10 receivers in the SEC by yards per game. DeVonta Smith is third with 654 yards (93.4 per game), Jerry Jeudy is fourth (579, 82.7 per game) and Henry Ruggs III is 10th (466, 66.6 per game).
• After running for 105 yards against Tennessee, Najee Harris is on pace for a 1,000-yard season. Harris’ 79.43 yards per game would put him over 1,000 after 13 games. It was UA the fourth time in his career he’s run for 100 or more.
• Eight of the 15 third downs Tennessee faced were either third-and-goal or third-and-four or fewer yards to gain. UA coach Nick Saban has continued to stress third-down defense as a place for improvement; UA is 46th in the nation, allowing opponents to convert 35.92 percent of the time.
What about this game will be remembered in January?
This is by far the toughest decision of the season on this subject. The Tagovailoa injury will most likely win out, but the debut of the new lights and the Trevon Diggs fumble return aren’t going to be forgotten.
Quoting Nick Saban
• On Will Reichard: “He may have reinjured. He said this thing never hurt him at all punting, he was a little skeptical about kicking. Even though he has kicked some, and kicked in pregame, punted in pregame fine, then he might have reinjured himself. We don’t know the extent of that injury, either.”
• “I kind of like the lights and all that. I know somebody’s going to ask me that. As long as they got the good ones on when we’re playing, I’m good. I think they did a pretty good job of choreographing all that.”
• On the offensive line: “I thought they did a good job, especially on the direct runs. We seem to have more trouble running the ball on the edges, but the direct runs were really good for us and when you do that, that means people up front are hitting people and the backs are getting north and south. I think they did a really good job from that standpoint.”
Quoting the Crimson Tide
• Diggs on the fumble return: “It was probably my favorite play since I’ve been here.”
• Bolden on his touchdown pass: “It was a great experience, not gonna lie. You pray for times like this, that you finally get a chance. Everybody up front executed great, Miller got open and thankfully I threw him a good ball. It was a great time and I really appreciate it.”
• Lewis: “I feel like a lot of times the quarterback was holding the ball a little too long. We weren’t getting pressure early on, they kind of came out chipping us a lot. (Tennessee coach Jeremy) Pruitt knows what we have at Alabama, so we adjusted to it and started getting more and more pressure.”
Quoting the opponent
• Pruitt on the fumble at the end: “It wasn’t deflating. It pissed me off. I don’t know about you, but it pissed me off because we just put a great drive together. And really ran the ball with will down through there. I would have liked to see us get the ball in there and seen what we could have done. There’s lots of things that didn’t go our way in the game. Some of it we controlled, some of it we didn’t."
• Safety Nigel Warrior on his interception: “It was a blessing. Me and (cornerback) Bryce (Thompson), No. 20, we looked at each other; my tight end, he came across the field and Bryce ended up taking it, and I just squared up and I looked at the quarterback and he was throwing, so I did what I had to do.”
• Running back Tim Jordan on the starting quarterback getting injured in consecutive games: “At the end of the day, we practice and we compete and at that position they do the same thing as every other position. So when he goes down it’s next man up, and we expect the same productivity from the next guy.”
One man’s very arbitrary top four players of the game, in no particular order:
• Harris: 21 carries, 105 yards and two touchdowns, four catches for 48 yards. Harris was more or less what made Tennessee grasp for straws throughout the second half. Tennessee had to settle for field goals in the second quarter while Harris’ consistent production, 5 yards per carry, kept Alabama threatening to score.
• Lewis: Seven tackles, three for a loss, two sacks. He continues to be a ruiner of pockets.
• Alabama’s offensive line. Harris’s stat line was impressive, but not as impressive as the mauling of men the UA front did. It continues to show growth as a run blocking unit, particularly in situations when UA dedicates itself to running, as opposed to running simply as a byproduct of a RPO.
• Ty Perine: Two punts with a 46 1/2-yard average and one emphatic tackle. His impact on the game may not have been among the top four, but the early start is certainly a big one to fix what has been UA’s biggest weakness to date.
Against the spread
UA fell well short of the 34-point spread and the game fell well short of the 62-point over/under. On the season, UA is 3-4 against the spread and has hit four overs compared to three unders.
One more home game, against Arkansas at 6 p.m., before the second open week of the season, thus a two-week buildup to the showdown with LSU.