The No. 9 Tennessee Volunteers came out and lost in embarrassing fashion 49-10 to the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday. The Vols were depleted by injuries, but the play-calling and execution didn’t help matters either. Alabama dominated from start to finish to stay undefeated on the season.
Here are five observations from the Vols’ blowout loss.
Vols Can’t Play First Half Football
Another week goes by, and the Vols once again looked like they didn’t know how to play football in the first half.
Alabama out-gained Tennessee 309-41 on offense en route to taking a 21-7 halftime lead. The Vols forced two turnovers, but they had one of their own, a pick-six in the first quarter. Tennessee ran for just 11 yards on 20 attempts compared to the Tide’s 245 on 27 carries. And quarterback Josh Dobbs was just 6-of-15 for 30 yards and that interception that was returned for a touchdown.
The Vols were just 2-of-10 on third down and had more punts (7) than first downs (6) in the first half. They also allowed three sacks and only scored after taking over on the Alabama 11-yard line after a fumble recovery.
Tennessee has played some dreadful first halves during the season. But this might go down as their worst, at least since the Appalachian State game. And this time there was no second half comeback to save them.
Offensive Line Blown Up
Not only could Tennessee’s offensive line not stop Alabama’s front seven from wreaking havoc, but they sustained even more injuries during the game.
To the line’s credit, they didn’t allow a sack after the first quarter. But they gave up three in that quarter alone, and blocking was nowhere to be seen in the running game. Tennessee finished with a mere 32 rushing yards on 32 attempts.
The Vols started the game without Dylan Wiesman and Jashon Robertson. Then Brett Kendrick went out with injury, and Chance Hall was taken out and never came back in either. True freshman Marcus Tatum saw his first action of the season against Alabama’s stout defensive front. That’s not the spot you want a freshman to make his debut.
Tennessee needs the upcoming bye week in a bad way for their defensive players, but now they need it just as badly for their offensive line.
Jalen Hurts Really Hurt
Alabama’s freshman quarterback made some mistakes early on in the game, but he finished with yet another strong performance on what’s turning out to be a solid freshman campaign.
Hurts ran for 132 yards and two scores while also adding 143 yards through the air. Hurts ripped off several big gains on the ground, including a 45-yard touchdown run in the second quarter after the Vols scored their lone touchdown of the game.
Tennessee needed Hurts to look like a true freshman in this one. Instead, he ran all over their defense.
Vols Can’t End Several Streaks
For the ninth-straight game, Alabama got a non-offensive touchdown. In fact, they got two in this game.
Alabama scored on an interception by Ronnie Harrison in the first half after the defense blew up a screen play intended for Jalen Hurd. In the second half, the Tide scored on a 79-yard punt return by Eddie Jackson. Alabama scored more points on non-offensive plays than Tennessee had all game.
The Vols also failed to defeat Alabama for the 10th-straight season. Tennessee hasn’t beaten Alabama since 2006, and this is the sixth time during that streak that Tennessee has lost by at least 24 points.