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Report Card: No. 4 Alabama 34 Tennessee 20

offensive line-1

 Offensive Line

Daniel: The quarterback situation will get most of the headlines from this game and Joshua Dobbs’ mobility certainly helped this group out, but the offensive line deserves a lot of credit. Playing without Coleman Thomas and Marcus Jackson, the Vols looked improved up front despite a patchwork line that included Brett Kendrick, Kyler Kerbyson, Mack Crowder, Jashon Robertson and Jacob Gilliam. You can start with the run game, that looked not only competent, but at times even impressive against a stout Alabama run defense. The Vols had 181 yards against a rushing defense that gives up an average of just 64 yards per game on the ground. That’s almost tripling the average. Protection was much better as well as the Vols only gave up two sacks, and just one while Dobbs was in the game. This still isn’t a good offensive line. However it looked much better on Saturday and maybe it was Dobbs, maybe it was Brett Kendrick getting playing time or just improvement overall improvement, but the Vols will have a chance to win some games down the stretch if they can get that kind of production from this bunch. Based on who they had out there and the level of competition, it’s hard to ask for anything else from this unit. Grade: A

Houston: What an impressive performance from this group. They were clearly motivated to play well in this one and it showed. This was arguably the best defensive front sevens – along with Ole Miss, Oklahoma and Florida – that Tennessee will face this year, and easily the most talented on paper. Not only did the offensive line “hold their own” but they actually moved Alabama’s defensive linemen around a little bit. They created some great running lanes for Josh Dobbs, Jalen Hurd and Marlin Lane and held up very nicely against an Alabama pass rush that put up six sacks against Texas A&M last week. Kerbyson is a quality SEC-level guard and should play there the rest of the way, and Brett Kendrick had a very good night at left tackle. Jacob Gilliam looked more comfortable this week than he did against Ole Miss and looks like he may be Tennessee’s best option at right tackle. Looking ahead at the next four games, the offensive line may be gelling at just the right time. Only two sacks allowed and 181 rushing yards against, arguably, the best defense they’ll see all season was a great performance. Grade: A

Reed: Tennessee surrendered just two sacks, which tied for a season low (Utah State), and Vol QBs had more time to throw than they’ve had in a long time. Some of that was due to Alabama’s reluctance to blitz with a dual-threat QB back there, but there’s little doubt this group played perhaps their best game of the year. Brett Kendrick performed very well at left tackle and Jacob Gilliam, torn ACL and all, was more than solid at right tackle. Thanks in large part to their performances, the Vol rushing attack was the best it has been against a team of Alabama’s caliber in ages. Hurd finally had some room to run and the line consistently opened holes and got at least a little push. No one will confuse this group for a good offensive line, but they played as well as you could expect against Alabama. Grade: A

Average Grade: A

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