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Report Card: No. 4 Alabama 34 Tennessee 20

Butch Jones-1

 Coaching

Daniel: I didn’t love the field goal before the half. In a field position/close matchup type of game, sure, take the points, but down 20, the Vols had a lot of ground to cover and had to know they wouldn’t make it that close to the end zone that many more times throughout the course of the game. The second field goal was the right call. They had to cut it to two scores. The substituting wasn’t real clean and the Vols got caught unprepared a few times. The officials probably should’ve given more time in those situations, so I’ll cut the coaches some slack. Butch Jones trying to call a timeout as the play clock was expiring on Alabama was poor game management, but not a huge factor, just a small pet peeve. In terms of the game itself, the staff didn’t have this team ready to play. They were out-coached, out-played and out-schemed for the first 20 minutes of the game or so. But huge credit to them for keeping the team focused and in it. Playing Dobbs was clearly the right move and it gave the Vols a spark and a chance to make it interest. There was no excuse for letting Cooper run wild like that. That was one of the first times that this defensive staff looked pretty overmatched this year and that can’t happen again. I understand some of the questions that will come out of this game. Why didn’t Dobbs play earlier this year? Why has Coleman Thomas been starting over Brett Kendrick? Those are fair. But the good news for UT fans is that the team can take some positives from that game moving forward into a four-game stretch that will determine their postseason fate. Grade: C

Houston: There are some questions in this game that are worth asking. Why did Tennessee start the game in man-to-man against Amari Cooper and allow him to cruise to 185 and two touchdowns in the first quarter? Tennessee knew that Alabama would target Cooper but decided to play him no differently than they have played most other receivers this season. Now, Cooper has done this to everyone when he’s been healthy, so it isn’t like Tennessee is alone on the list of teams he has had success against, but I didn’t think the staff did enough to help with Cooper early. Offensively, if you knew Dobbs was going to be better than Peterman, then why didn’t you start him? My thoughts on this are that Nathan Peterman has been the backup quarterback all year, so he gets the first series or two to see if he can get it done. He was not getting it done, so they brought in Dobbs and the rest is history. I actually liked the wildcat package with Hurd and was a little surprised that they didn’t go back to it a couple more times, but after Bama jumped out 27-0 the emphasis was on passing the ball to get back in the game. I also like the Beast Package on 3rd and one, even though it different work. It appeared that A.J. hesitated a bit or I think that would have been an easy first down. All in all, a pretty good night for the offense once Dobbs went in, but a terrible gameplan to start the game on defense gave the Vols no shot in this one. They didn’t quit, however, and that is something that is very important. Grade: C+

Reed: There were a few decisions in this one I think the staff would like to have back. The field goal at the half cut a three possession game to…a three possession game and did little to alter Tennessee’s chances at a dramatic comeback. Tennessee’s decision to play man to man on Cooper and not shadow him with Cam Sutton was a fail on two levels. That, more than anything, cost the Vols the game. It was surprising to see the Vol defense struggle as much as it did in the first quarter and on third down. Offensively, you saw how dynamic the Vol attack can be with a good athlete at QB. They moved the pocket, showed Bama different looks and opened up the playbook a bit. For perhaps the first time this year, the offense graded out better than the defense. Grade: C

Average Grade: C

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