Report Card: No. 4 Alabama 34 Tennessee 20

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    Amari Cooper-1

     Secondary

    Daniel: We said all week that stopping Amari Cooper would be the key. Alabama doesn’t have a ton of other great options, so focus in on Cooper, and the defense would have a chance to be successful. They obviously failed in that mission. Cooper set a new school record with 224 yards on nine receptions and scored twice – only on an 80-yard play and again on a 41-yard reception. Yes, the Vols battled back to make it interesting after that, but those mistakes truthfully cost Tennessee a legitimate shot in this game. Cooper’s an outstanding talent and Butch Jones pointed out that he goes off on everybody. That’s true to an extent, but the Vols couldn’t afford that kind of explosion. They had to keep him closer to 100-120 yards to have a shot. Thankfully for the Vols, they likely won’t see another WR of that caliber again for a long time, but they didn’t get the job done on Saturday. Grade: D

    Houston: Amari Cooper has torched teams that played him man-to-man this season while being relatively contained by teams who have decided to throw a zone look at him. Tennessee came out in man coverage and Cooper took his first catch of the night 80 yards for a touchdown on Alabama’s first play from scrimmage. Credit Alabama for moving Cooper around and finding creative ways to get him in favorable matchups, but Tennessee lost him too often last night. The entire Alabama passing game revolves around Blake Sims buying time with his feet and finding Cooper on extended routes. Tennessee knew this, but still failed to key on Cooper and force someone else to beat them. Cooper’s second touchdown of the night came when Cam Sutton bit on a Sims pump fake and got beat over the top. The safety was late getting over and Cooper walked in for six. This group did settle down somewhat, but it was easily their worst outing of the year. Grade: D-

    Reed: This group just didn’t play well, there’s no way around it. They’ve been very good for much of the season but missed too many tackles and lost track of Amari Cooper, who set a school record for receiving yards, far too often. He’s one of the best receivers the Vols have faced…well…ever, but that’s still no excuse for leaving him as open as they did. They bounced back after a horrific first quarter and kept Cooper largely in che The good news is the Vols won’t face a test as tough as the Sims/Cooper combo the rest of the season. They need to bounce back next week against Dylan Thompson and the Gamecocks – the SEC’s third ranked passing offense – to have a shot at the upset in Columbia. This group also needs to start picking off opposing QBs again – they have just one interception in the last three games. They’re saved from an F by Sutton’s forced fumble and his coverage of Cooper after the 1st quarter. Grade: D

    Average Grade: D