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Live Thread: Tennessee vs. No. 1 Alabama

Photo By Donald Page/Tennessee Athletics

Tuscaloosa, Ala. — Alabama was able to cover the largest point spread in the history of its rivalry with Tennessee.

The Crimson Tide defeated the Vols 45-7. Here’s our live thread from Tuscaloosa.

Fourth Quarter

Jarrett Guarantano has been sacked four times tonight. I think that’s a big step forward from last week’s debacle against South Carolina. But the freshman still has to do a better job getting rid of the football.

Total yards update: Alabama has out-gained Tennessee 592-101. And that’s with backup quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in the game for all of the second half minus one drive.

Touchdown Alabama. Tagovailoa sat back in the pocket for what seemed like ten seconds and eventually found Henry Ruggs III for a 60 yard touchdown. Alabama 45, Tennessee 7 — 4:49/4Q

7:23 — Guarantano is picked off on the one. And who’s surprised? That sequence encompassed everything wrong with Tennessee this season. Bad play-calling, a dumb penalty and then terrible execution on third down.

8:46 — John Kelly ALMOST had a touchdown, but after review he was ruled down at the one. Then on the next play, UT is ruled for a false start. Ouch.

10:40 — Tennessee punts it back to the Tide, but the kick is muffed. The Vols take over in the redzone. That’s one of UT’s biggest offensive plays of the game. This is the closest UT has been to the endzone all night offensively.

Touchdown Alabama. Tua Tagovailoa rushes for a 23 yard touchdown, making a nice move in the secondary to break the plain. Even Bama’s backups are dominating. Alabama 38, Tennessee 7 — 12:59/4Q

End of the Third Quarter — Alabama 31, Tennessee. UT has 88 total yards. Alabama has 438.

2:12 — Tennessee has started to huddle. That’s interesting. Butch Jones told the media during the week that the Vols likely wouldn’t resort to that. With or without a huddle, Tennessee’s offensive line continues to struggle. After Guarantano was sacked on first down, the Vols got behind schedule again, resulting in another punt.

Alabama adds a field goal. Andy Pappanastos’ 25 yard field goal is good following a 8 play, 52 yard drive covering 2:50. Alabama 31, Tennessee 7 — 3:13/3Q

Touchdown Tennessee. Seriously.

Daniel Bituli intercepts Tagovailoa, and rumbles 97 yards for a score. The touchdown drought is over at last. Alabama 28, Tennessee 7 — 6:03/3Q

8:01 — Tagovailoa runs for a gain of 18 to put Alabama inside the UT 20 again. There’s nothing Tennessee can do. Its defense is just out of gas.

10:11 — Alabama has turned to backup quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. That’s embarrassing for Butch Jones and Tennessee.

10:59 — John Kelly nearly picks up the first down on third & 17, but he’s stopped two yards short. Coleman Thomas lost his shoe and Ryan Johnson was slotted in at guard.

11:30 — Guarantano is sacked again. Just like that, Tennessee is backed up to its own three.

Touchdown Alabama. Hurts finds Irv Smith wide open over the middle, who walks into the endzone for an easy score. Alabama 28, Tennessee 0 — 12:32/3Q

Shawn Shamburger and Kendal Vickers are both shaken up after Bama gains another first down through the air. Shaq Wiggins replacing Shamburger, who’s been gaurading Calvin Ridley.

14:25 — More tempo from Alabama. Tennessee should learn a lesson from how Alabama pushes the pace on every play like there’s two minutes left in the game. The Crimson tide are already across midfield after three plays.

Alabama takes over at its own 24 to start the second half.

Halftime Analysis

Jarrett Guarantano still hasn’t turned the ball over. But he needs to do more in order for the Vols to be successful.

Tennessee has only completed one pass over the middle. It was a completion to Ethan Wolf on a slant pattern.

UT needs more separation over the middle. Nick Saban’s defense has completely taken away any checkdown options for Guarantano. And in order for those to open up, Tennessee has to complete a pass farther than 10 yards down the field.

Meanwhile, John Kelly has five touches at halftime. That can’t happen.

Two of those touches were on the final drive of the first half. They went for 27 yards. If Tennessee is going to keep this one from getting more embarrassing, it has to give its best player the ball.

Half: Alabama 21, Tennessee 0 — The touchdown drought has reached 12 quarters.

:2 — Guarantano is sacked for a big loss back into Tennessee territory. Butch Jones elects to wait until there’s two seconds left on the clock before calling a timeout there.

:43 — Tennessee finally converts a third down. Guarantano finds Callaway to move the chains up to the Bama 44.

1:10 — We have a John Kelly sighting. He breaks through for an 18 yard gain on first down, and then takes a screen pass for nine yards on the next play.

With two illegal hands to the face penalties, Jonathan Kongbo has essentially gifted Alabama with two touchdowns. He’s got to sit out the next series. The Vols need more of Matthew Butler, because Kongbo’s poor technique has really costed this defense in the first half.

Touchdown Alabama. It’s Damien Harris this time. He finds the endzone from 11 yards out, giving the Crimson Tide a 21-0 lead with 1:18 remaining in the first half.

2:35 — Shawn Shamburger makes a sack. He’s having an impressive debut in the starting lineup. The following play is flagged for illegal hands to the face…and it’s Kongbo again. That gives Alabama 1st & 10 at the UT 34.

4:06 — Guarantano is sacked on third down. The Vols wanted Callaway over the middle on a screen, but Levi Wallace went untouched in the backfield. Alabama takes over at its own 23 after a block in the back on the ensuing punt. That flag costs them 30 yards.

Alabama is outgaining Tennessee 190-50 with five minutes left in the first half. The Vols are lucky to only be down by two touchdowns at this point. The Crimson Tide are averaging just 3.4 yards per carry.

Touchdown Alabama. It’s a replay of the first score. Bo Scarbrough dives over the line and into the endzone.

4:53 — Alabama goes to the air again on the goal line, and it can’t convert. Those play action rollouts just aren’t working, and the Tide aren’t adjusting yet. Fourth and goal from the one upcoming after the timeout.

5:32 — Alabama is having a hard time finding any room near the goal line. Jalen Hurts’ pass is dropped by Calvin Ridley in the endzone, and he’s shaken up after the play. It’s third & goal from the five.

6:25 — Tennessee almost caught a break. Irv Smith fumbled the ball through the endzone, but Tennessee is called for illegal hands to the face before the pass. So the Tide will have possession on the two yard line where the fumble occurred. That is basically a turnover against the Vols.

7:09 — Alabama is called for holding. That’s rare. That’ll move the Tide back to the Tennessee 43 yard line. Nick Saban’s offense has upped the tempo on this drive. Since their long first down at the beginning of the drive, Jalen Hurts has been sprinting to get a quick snap off every play.

8:30 — Just when Tennessee thinks it has Bama off the field again, the Crimson Tide move the chains for a 19 yard gain. Calvin Ridley was wide open over the middle.

9:23 — Guarantano scrambles on third down…again. And he’s short…again. He hasn’t been sacked it, but it’s only a matter of time. Tennessee’s wide receivers need to start getting better separation. The Vols are 0-for-4 on third downs today.

12:30 — Rashaan Gaulden is everywhere. Tennessee’s defense holds again.

14:04 — Jalen Hurts goes deep on first down, but Rashaan Gaulden is there to break up his pass at the ten yard line. The intended receiver Cam Sims is shaken up after the play.

14:35 — Another three-and-out. Guarantano had good protection on third down, but decided to tuck it and run. He was five yards short of the line to gain.

End of the First Quarter: Alabama 7, Tennessee 0 — Jarrett Guarantano is 4-for-5 for 25 yards so far. 3rd & 12 upcoming for the Vols.

1:45 — Tennessee’s defense holds. Jalen Hurts ran a play action rollout to the right, and the Vols were all over it. JK Scott’s ensuing punt is fair caught by Marquez Callaway at the 20 yard line.

4:52 — This is your weekly reminder that Trevor Daniel is Tennessee’s MVP. His 43 yard punt is downed at the one yard line, where the Tide will take over on offense.

5:08 — Jarrett Guarantano keeps on a QB draw on third and 11. He picked up nine yards, and the Vols will punt. I couldn’t tell if if was a designed run or not. But either way, it was a special play. Guarantano made a few guys miss, lowered his shoulder and got more yardage than he should have.

7:12 — Tennessee is…moving the ball? Jarrett Guarantano is 2-for-2 on this drive, including a slant to Ethan Wolf and a swing pass to Tim Jordan. Butch Jones is trusting Guarantano a lot more today. He’s been the focal point of the offense thus far.

8:21 — Touchdown Alabama. The Crimson Tide find the endzone on fourth and goal from the one. Bo Scarbrough flew over the UT defensive line for an easy score. 12 plays, 63 yards in 5:35 for Bama’s first scoring drive.

11:52 — Shamburger is making good tackles, but Ridley has beaten him twice now. The Tide are in UT territory.

13:40 — Shawn Shamburger is starting at corner for the injured Justin Martin. He stops Calvin Ridley on first down for a five yard gain.

14:05 — Jarrett Guarantano carries for a one yard gain on the first play, and the Vols immediately up the tempo. Brandon Johnson hauls in a slant on second down, but UT can’t convert. Once again, Tennessee targets Josh Smith deep down the sideline. Quick three-and-out.

Pregame Notes

Justin Martin will reportedly miss today’s game due to injury according to 247sports.

Freshman Shawn Shamburger is expected to start in the senior’s place. Senior grad transfer Shaq Wiggins will also see time at corner.

Evan Berry is still questionable for today’s game, but he was not on the field during warmups with the rest of the return men. So he’s likely out for today’s game. Expect Ty Chandler to continue handling the kickoff return duties this afternoon.

Quinten Dormady is participating in warmups. Reports earlier this week said that the junior quarterback is having issues with his shoulder. Fourth string quarterback Seth Washington did make the trip. He’s warming up alongside Dormady.

Will McBride is taking a majority of the snaps with the second team. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’s today’s backup, but that he needs to be extra ready in case Dormady can’t go in relief of Guarantano.

Coleman Thomas was announced as a starter for today’s game by the public address announcer. He’ll get the start at center, confirming what we reported on Tuesday.

We expect the starting linemen to be Richmond-Robertson-Thomas-Smith-Kendrick.

The following NFL teams are represented at today’s game.

  • Ravens
  • Bills
  • Panthers
  • Bears
  • Browns
  • Chiefs
  • Dolphins
  • Vikings
  • Patriots
  • Giants
  • Jets
  • Raiders
  • Titans

Representatives from the TaxSlayer Bowl and Citrus Bowl are in attendance as well.

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