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Final: No. 8 Alabama 19 Tennessee 14

AlabamaPre-game notes: 

• Scouts from the Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins are in attendance at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

• Reps from the Citrus and Sugar Bowl are also in attendance.

• Peyton Manning made a surprise appearance in pre-game warmups.

• Jalen Hurd looks fine in warm-ups, showing no noticeable effects from missing some time this week due to illness.

• No sign of Preston Williams in warm-ups. At least one report says the freshman receiver is out today. Also no sign of Brett Kendrick or Jashon Robertson on the offensive line.

• Marquez North looks good going through pre-game warmups

• The starting offensive line was announced as (from left to right) Kyler Kerbyson, Dylan Wiesman, Coleman Thomas, Jack Jones and Chance Hall

First Quarter (Tied 7-7):

Tennessee came out of the gates firing, putting together an impressive drive with good tempo that included two first-down runs by Joshua Dobbs and a nice catch on a swing pass to Alvin Kamara that he took for about 20 yards as well to get within scoring range. A second sack on the drive stalled the Vols at the Alabama 25, however, and Aaron Medley couldn’t connect on a 43-yard field goal, leaving the Vols with nothing to show from what was a fairly promising drive.

Alabama then took advantage of its first possession. A holding call on Tennessee gave the Tide a third-down conversion to get them going. They then rolled 75 yards on nine plays, capping it off with a 20-yard touchdown run by Derrick Henry. The Vols continue to miss tackles, a problem that has plagued them the last few games.

Tennessee would answer after that. Using a nice balance of passes and run, and getting some help from a defensive PI call on Bama, the Vols moved it 75 yards with Dobbs rolling to his left, getting great protection, and firing a strike to Josh Smith in the corner of the end zone to tie it up with 3:00 left in the first quarter. So far, UT has been able to move the ball fairly easily, but some self-inflicted wounds kept them from taking the early lead.

After Alabama advanced to the UT 40 on its next drive, the Vols got a big sack from Jalen Reeves-Maybin, putting Alabama in third and long, which they were not able to convert. The Vols take over with the ball to start the second quarter. All-in-all a strong start for UT, and we’ll see if the Vols can hold on against a very talented Alabama team.

Second Quarter (Tied 7-7):

The second quarter started with not much from either team on opening drives. The Vols had a quick three-and-out after Dobbs got sacked. Tennessee’s defense then gave up a few quick runs and first downs to Bama, but got a hold at midfield after Corey Vereen got past Cam Robinson to sack Coker.

The Vols again stalled on their second drive after a near interception by Alabama’s Ronnie Harrison. A heads up play by Jauan Jennings broke that play up. Bama began the next drive with a quick first down on a rollout from Coker to O.J. Howard for 18 yards, but that drive was cut short after a Derek Barnett sack, followed by an interception by Brian Randolph. Randolph seemingly came out of nowhere there to create the turnover.

Even with the interception the Vols couldn’t get anything going from there. Dobbs converted on a creative pump-fake third down, but that led to another punt from Trevor Daniel. Coker avoided a sack on Bama’s next series that was then backed up by a Drake unsportsmanlike penalty. Bama punted with 1:50 to go in the 1st half.

The Vols had plenty of time on the clock to go down make something happen from there. It looked like UT was playing to get to the half, but Hurd gave the Vols a huge third-down run for 29 yards that would bring the Vols into Tide territory.

An Illegal touching penalty stalled out the Vols’ drive, resulting in a 51-yard FG attempt for Medley. Medley is given a second chance by a Bama timeout as he bounces one off the left upright. The second attempt was wide left and no good, ending the half with the Vols and Tide tied 7-7.

Tennessee has to be frustrated with a few missed opportunities, but very encouraged by their start overall. The Vols have taken some life out of this Bryant-Denny crowd and have given themselves a shot to compete in the second half. Those missed FGs could come back to haunt them, but most UT fans would’ve gladly taken a 7-7 tie at the half. That’s what UT has after 30 minutes.

Third Quarter: Alabama leads 10-7

All in all, this was a solid quarter by the Tennessee Volunteers. Alabama appeared poised to put a touchdown on the board during their first drive, but the Vol defense held and was able to force a Tide field goal.

Tennessee’s offense struggled early to counter against Alabama’s halftime adjustments, but are currently in the midst of a solid drive into Alabama territory as the third quarter comes to a close. Offensively, Tennessee is doing a very nice job of utilizing the speed of Kamara, the power of Hurd, and the overall athleticism of Joshua Dobbs. Tennessee is out-rushing Alabama 136-68, and the defensive line has done an outstanding job of keeping Derrick Henry in check while also pressuring Jake Coker.

The overall stats look much better than most Tennessee fans expected coming into the game, but early missed field goals are haunting the Vols right now.

Some highlights…

Fourth Quarter: Alabama leads 10-7

The Vols stalled in Alabama territory before Medley missed his third field goal of the game – a 51-yard attempt. Alabama promptly marched on a 12 play 56 yard drive that resulted in a field goal to put the Tide up 13-7.

Tennessee immediately responded with a 4 play, 75 yard touchdown drive to take a 14-13 lead. Two long passing plays, one to Smith and one to Malone set up this Jalen Hurd touchdown run.

A couple of long pass plays from Jacob Coker led Alabama into Tennessee territory and field goal range. Butch Jones used Tennessee’s first timeout with 3:02 remaining. Derrick Henry picked up a first down before scampering into the endzone to take the lead. Alabama’s two-point try was broken up by Justin Martin.

The Vols got the ball back needing a touchdown to win it. Penalties and a lack of execution marred the drive before Ryan Anderson sacked Joshua Dobbs and forced a fumble. Alabama recovered and ran the remaining time out to win 19-14.

Final: Alabama wins 19-14.

Analysis: Tennessee fought for 4 quarters and had multiple chances to win this one. Alabama wasn’t particularly sharp – they dropped multiple interceptions – but they were simply better late in the game. The game plans on both sides of the ball for the Vols were solid. They forced Coker, not Henry, to beat them defensively and a couple of close plays through the air proved to be the difference late. When the Vols needed a touchdown, they got a brilliant 4 play, 75 yard scoring drive. There were plenty of positives to point to, including effort and scheme. If Tennessee plays like they did against Alabama the rest of the season, they’ll win out.

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