Alabama hits on all cylinders against Tennessee
The No. 2 Crimson Tide came into Saturday’s matchup with Tennessee riding a 13-game win streak over the Volunteers. Alabama was able to easily extend that streak to 14 with a 48-17 victory.
Every aspect of the game was clicking for the Tide as the offense continued to excel. The defense also stepped up for the second week in a row. Bama’s defense held Tennessee to 302 total yards of offense, while the Tide offense managed 587 yards.
Head coach Nick Saban discussed the importance of this annual contest, saying, “It’s a great rivalry game and I know it means a lot to a lot of people in the state of Alabama.”
“I’m certainly proud of our players for the effort that they put in and the game that we played to win tonight… It’s always great to win,” said Saban in his postgame remarks.
While the game will certainly go down as a win, the victory was clouded by star wide receiver and returner Jaylen Waddle suffering what was likely a season-ending injury.
This season, Waddle has already accounted for 25 receptions for 557 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
The offense did not skip a beat against Tennessee with Waddle out, with sophomore wide receiver Slade Bolden serving as the “next man up.”
Bolden filled Waddle’s role at receiver as well as punt returner, looking good against Tennessee while accounting for 94 yards on six receptions.
Mac Jones likely missed throwing to Waddle, but still had a great game. He threw for 387 yards against the Volunteer’s secondary. Jones also had an 80% completion rate this week. According to Vegas odds, he is now the second favorite to win the Heisman Trophy. The running game went well for Alabama as well, thanks to another strong performance from Najee Harris.
The star running back for the Tide had another outstanding performance in rushing for 96 yards and three touchdowns. The offensive line was opening up holes in the Tennessee defense all game long.
Tennessee couldn’t get many points on the board thanks to Bama’s stingy defense.
Defensively the Tide are getting better each and every week. Ole Miss was the team that first exposed Alabama’s defense. However, since then they have been progressing and really held their own this week.
Malachi Moore had an exceptional game against the Volunteers, including a scoop and score that really started to put a cap on the game and deflate Jeremy Pruitt’s team. That touchdown put Bama up big at the beginning of the second half.
While discussing the defense, Saban was asked about Alabama’s secondary and how they are growing. He responded by saying, “At times I think we did okay, but I think we gave up at least three plays, maybe four.”
He then added, “In the second half though we really shouldn’t have given up the plays because we were playing split safety coverages…you can’t give up explosive plays.”
Saban will always be critical of his teams — that’s what makes him such a great coach, as he never gets complacent. Still, he had something to be proud of and that was the defense as a whole for Alabama.
He had this to say about his defense, “This is probably the best we’ve played… I was kind of proud of the way the guys played. They played with a little more confidence, and we were pretty aggressive overall.”
Alabama will host Mississippi State in Tuscaloosa next weekend in what should be a good game to test the waters on what works best for a Tide offense without Waddle.
Hayden Crigler is a contributing college football writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him through email: email@example.com or on Twitter: @hayden_crigler.