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T-Town Weather

Tennessee Grades
Posted by Woody Woodruff on Wednesday November 06 2013 @ 02:40PM CST
[ The Commissioner's Blog ]

As a public service to readers of The Grades, The Commissioners Blog is pleased to provide a sample of postings from the Twitter-verse related to Saturday's game between Alabama and Tennessee.

One of the recurring themes was Coach Saban's exhortation earlier in the week for students to stay for the full game:

@CecilHurt: I just saw the first student leave Bryant-Denny Stadium. But her date called her by another girl's name.

@TheRealJaBo: I realize the football team is beating another SEC opponent by five touchdowns and it might be a little boring, but YOU BETTER STAY FOR THE WHOLE DAMN GAME!#donotleaveearly

@MarcTorrence: Sign in student section: "Hey Coach, we will stay for 60 minutes if you will stay forever."

@MarcTorrence: Saban in post-game presser: "That's sounds like a good deal to me."

Reacting to a ridiculously bad call of offensive pass interference against Amari Cooper, @CorrespondentFromTheRealThing tweeted: "The real officials must have left early.#zebras"

Savoring the magnitude of the victory, a Bama fan living in Tennessee tweeted: @WadeMan: Derrick Dooley never lost to Alabama by as large a margin as Butch Jones just did. #UTturnaround

And then there is this one just as the game clock went to all zeros:

@TideFaninVolLand: 525,600 minutes=time available to savor Tide victory over the Vols. #thirdsaturdayinoctober #dominate

OK, the 2013 renewal of the Alabama-UT rivalry was not held on the third Saturday in October, but "domination" is the only word to describe the recent relationship between these two programs. And Saturday night's merciless beat-down of the Big Orange was a lost fumble at the goal line from being the largest margin of victory in the history of the series. As it was, you have to go all the way back to 1963 to find the equal of Alabama's 35 point domination of the Volunteers.

By every statistical metric, Alabama dominated Tennessee. First Downs: Tide 26-Vols 14; Total Offense: UA 479-UT 322; Rushing Yards: Bama 204-Tenn. 127; All Purpose Yards: Alabama 728-Tennessee 468.

After the game, AJ told reporters that the team was especially motivated to avenge statements attributed to UT players and coaches that reflected some degree of disrespect towards the two-time defending national champions. If a 45-10 woodshedding is what Alabama delivers in response to Butch Jones saying: "I think our guys can play with anybody" then the UT Sports Information Department should just impose a "No Comment" policy during Alabama week.

Saturday's Tuscaloosa News devoted the front page of the Game Day section to the question of whether Alabama vs. Tennessee was still a rivalry. Take it from someone whose home is in the State of Tennessee: You better believe it is!

Sure, in recent years LSU has become the biggest challenge in the SEC West. A&M is an emerging rival and there is always Alabama Polytechnic Institute. But none of them come anywhere close to Tennessee. Say any of these phrases: Third Saturday, Broken Leg, Secret Witness, Rocky Block, The Great Pumpkin or Victory Cigars and Alabama fans know the reference is to Tennessee. The 2013 edition may have been a lopsided affair and the combined margin of victory in Alabama's recent national championship run is a staggering 130 points, but UT - Alabama is very much a rivalry. Perhaps the best in the Deep South. Some day, especially if Butch Jones continues to recruit gargantuan receivers and behemoth offensive linemen, the student section will be packed for 60 minutes, not because the coach challenges them to stay, but because the outcome of the game will be in the balance.

Here's how I grade the game:

Offense: A Kenyan Drake's lost fumble at the UT goal line on Alabama's fifth offensive possession of the game keeps me from being able to award the + to what was otherwise as impressive an offensive performance as we have seen from Alabama so far this season. The Tide scored touchdowns on its first four drives.

AJ completed 19 of 27 pass attempts for 275 yards and 2 TDs. He was not sacked and had no interceptions. Kevin Norwood caught 6 passes for 112 yards-his first 100+ yard receiving performance. Amari Cooper made 5 receptions for 75 yards. But for an inexcusably bad call of offensive pass interference, the talented sophomore would have added another TD catch of about 65 yards, to his stat sheet. Seven different receivers caught passes.

Kenyan Drake led all rushers with 89 yards on 14 carries. TJ Yeldon gained 72 yards on 15 runs while Derek Henry and Christion Jones each contributed 20 yards on the ground. Yeldon scored 3 rushing TDs.

Alabama had six drives that gained 40 or more yards [51, 66, 66, 81, 98, 68] producing five touchdowns and one field goal. The offense controlled the ball for 33:58 of the game and converted 7 of 11 third downs.

Defense: A+ Landon Collins, starting in place of the injured Vinnie Sunseri, scored the third-longest touchdown on an interception return in school history when he picked off a Justin Worley pass late in the second quarter and, expertly following his blockers, raced 89 yards to the end zone.

Tennessee managed to complete less than 50% of its pass attempts [13 of 28] for a meager 195 yards. Deion Belue also intercepted a second-quarter Worley pass and returned it 28 yards.

Collins led all tacklers with 6 stops [5 solo] and forced a fumble. True freshman DT A'Shawn Robinson was credited with 6 tackles and a QB hurry. Trey DePriest made 5 tackles. Cyrus Jones and Denzel Deval each made 4 tackles. Defenders recorded 5 pass breakups and 4 hurries.

In the first half, Tennessee had five meaningful offensive possessions; they achieved two punts, a turnover on downs and two interceptions, one of which was returned for a TD. For the game, UT converted only 3 of 12 third down opportunities and had more yards in kick returns [146 yards on 8 kickoffs] than net yards rushing [127].

Special Teams:

Punting: A+ Cody Mandel did not make an appearance in the game until the third quarter and punted twice in the game. Those kicks were his fourth and fifth punts for the month of October. He averaged 40 yards per punt and neither punt was returned. Christion Jones returned 2 UT punts for 19 yards.

Place Kicking: A+ Adam Griffin was good from 20 yards out on Alabama's lone field goal attempt. He and Cade Foster shared PAT duties and were perfect on all six attempts.

Kickoffs: B+ Alabama kicked off so many times that Foster, Griffin and Mandel had to share the duty. They averaged 63.2 yards per kick. The Tide return game was very good; Tenn. averaged only 20 net yards per kick off. The Tide coverage unit, however, took a step backwards against Tennessee allowing one return for 45 yards, and achieving a net of only 35.5 yards per kick.

Coaching: A Alabama was penalized 4 times for 45 yards. The participation report lists 66 players who saw action. Starting nose-tackle,Brandon Ivory, did not play due to an unspecified medical issue.

As the game clock ticked under 2:00 to play, the smoking lamp went on in the student section as several thousand cigars were lighted. By the time the Rammer Jammer had been sung a haze of blue-gray smoke covered most of the seating in the south end zone. Victory cigars were ubiquitous on the quad as a sizable crowd celebrated the Tide's win in Tent City. Which reminds me to share with you another tweet:

@TennesseanInTtown: Victory over the Vols is sweet....also smokey! #IhateUT

In the night game, SEC East front-runner, Mizzou banged a chip-shot field goal attempt off the left upright to lose in double overtime to the Fighting Chickens. This prompted @WadeMan to tweet: "Not even the Heimlich maneuver can save you from a choke like that. #notreadyforprimetime"

At the Barn, API beat Florida Atlantic 45-10; Ole Miss beat Idaho [are they the Spuds?] 59-14; A&M crushed Vandy 56-24; and State proved itself to be only six points better than Kentucky, winning 28-22.

LSU whipped Furman 48-16. The Bengal Tigers have two weeks, during which Alabama will be idle, before they travel to Tuscaloosa. I think that the media relations folks in Baton Rouge are going to say something to Les Miles and other members of the traveling costume party that is LSU football about being careful not to say anything that causes Alabama to feel disrespected.

On second thought, I doubt that ever occurs to them. Expect the smack-tweets and talk of "Tiger Bait" to start any moment now. Some rivalries are spicier than others. And this one is about as peppery as they come.

Au revoir, Vols.

Bienvenue, you folks from Louisiana.

The Commissioner

< Arkansas Grades | LSU Grades >

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