Alabama’s Offense Too Much For The Vols To Handle

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The Tennessee Vols were looking to find some spark that could hit the reset buttons on many issues. But the Vols just weren’t that lucky. Having to deal with an Alabama offense that was clicking is hard enough, but throw in some bad secondary play, and you get this result. A 48-17 win for the Crimson Tide.

On the first play of the game, Alabama’s star playmaker Jaylen Waddle was taken to the ground and landed awkwardly. It would be later reported that he fractured his ankle and would be done for the season. A very tough blow for the Alabama team that continued to march down the field and score, again and again.

Jeremy Pruitt decided he would start Jarrett Guarantano in today’s game against the lethal Tide. I actually didn’t disagree with it, as it was at least possible we would’ve seen a different QB earlier in the game. But how do you offset the craziness that is Alabama’s offense? You have to make big plays by spreading out their defense, especially down the field.

Alabama had put up a 21-3 lead on the Vols before they finally struck pay dirt after a nice little run from Guarantano, with a twist. On the very next play, it was a freshman’s time to shine. Guarantano took three steps and hit a streaking Jalin Hyatt down the field for the 38-yard Tennessee touchdown.

Guarantano actually looked decent on this drive, not making many mistakes. At times, he actually looked like he should be out there. But that was it for the Vols in the 1st half. The one drive that put Tennessee back into the game and have them somewhat hopeful for the time being.

But that wasn’t in the call for Tennessee today, especially not from an offensive standpoint. Without Guarantano hitting Hyatt, I have to wonder how long could the Vols for consecutive drives.

As the game tickled on, Alabama counted to make Tennessee made mistakes while also finding the weaknesses in Tennessee’s. The secondary has not been kind to Pruitt so far. Today was no different.

Tennessee only had 160 total yards in the first half, compared to Alabama’s 383 yards. Heck, their receiver had more yards catching than Guarantano throwing the football. They didn’t have an answer for the Tide’s offense and were trying to figure out an identity on defense. While none of this wasn’t expected, I honestly feel there could’ve been movement.

Though there weren’t many bright spots for Tennessee, Guarantano did hit Josh Palmer for a 27-yard touchdown with 3:31 remaining in the 3rd quarter. He had a few throws today that gave credence on why he was starting so many games. But, he had the same amount of mistakes that make him look like the quarterback we’ve seen over the last four years.

The defensive line had one sack, something you know will agitate Pruitt tomorrow, since he’s actually the DL coach now. Today was about the present and certainly not like the past, even though at times it looked like nothing had changed. Roman Harrison was the only other player to record a sack for the Vols.

Unfortunately for Tennessee, the past had snuck up on Tennessee as the second half began. Eric Gray was stripped by Malachi Moore and Alabama got a quick touchdown on the board at the 14:27 mark of the 3rd quarter. Not the start Tennessee needed, if they were going to try and narrow the lead.

It was all but over at this point for the Vols.

As the 2nd half continued to roll along, Alabama just continued to push the limits. They had already scored 17 points in the half before the play clock read 7:01 remaining. The Vols only scored seven points in the second half.

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The Tide added to their lead when freshman QB Bryce Young, led Alabama on a 12-play, 60-yard drive for a field goal.

With the score sitting at 48-17 with 4:22 remaining, Tennessee decided to switch QB’s, which still confuses me. Why wait this long to give another guy an opportunity at reps? The Vols weren’t coming back, the game was over midway through the 3rd quarter. Jeremy Pruitt was asked during his press conference on why he decided to go with Maurer.

“Based off reps we felt like Brian earned it this week and we gave him the opportunity and I thought did a pretty nice job in there.”

If that was the case, wouldn’t it help the young man to get a few more reps earlier in the 2nd half? Yes, that’s a rhetorical question.

Tennessee had essentially thrown in the towel early in the 4th quarter, but this pretty much sealed the day. This was another performance by a Tennessee team that counts as unacceptable on so many different levels.

Yes, Mac Jones was 25-31 for 387 yards. No, he didn’t throw for a touchdown, but he did rush for one. Tennessee’s secondary was just bad; there’s no other way to put it. Their performance was the supporting actor in this horrible outing. If you give up 417 yards through the air and 167 yards on the ground, you won’t win many games.

Tennessee was 4-16 on third downs, which won’t win you much of anything in the SEC. This group has too many problems to be committing that many mistakes on 1st and 2nd downs. The play calling is very questionable, almost as if they were playing with a 30 point lead.

The Vols only rushed for 94 yards between the 29 carries that Eric Gray and Ty Chandler produced, which won’t open things up for you much on offense. I guess this is better than the outing in Athens, if you wanna count those type of numbers.

Tennessee’s longest timed possession of the day was the 13 play, 60 yard drive that ended with a Cimaglia field goal. The 5:43 that was taken off the clock was the complete opposite of how the Vols started the game. Trying to play fast like you’re Ole Miss won’t work without a quarterback suited for that type of offense.

By the way, that little quick setup offense managed to get Tennessee 14 yards and took up 1:44 of clock. Alabama followed that up with a 6 play, 70 yard drive capped off by a touchdown. The Vols essentially gave the ball back without actually turning it over. Just pointless play calling.

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Guarantano is who is he is now; nothing or nobody is going to change that. He performed at times like he wanted to get rid of that huge chip on his shoulder. Other times though, he played like a guy that has been doing the same thing for almost four years straight. His two beautiful TD passes reminded you of what could have been, but the ducks he threw reminded you how he got here.

Jeremy Pruitt had this to say about Guarantano during his zoom session.

“You talk about being in a rough week, Jarrett can’t control what anybody else does. All Jarrett can control is what he does. Just like the rest of us in that locker room. That’s what he needs to focus on and I thought he did a nice job this week being mature about it and focusing on the things he needed to improve. He did a nice job managing the offense today, had some scrambles out there and was accurate on some throws. That was good to see.”

Jim Chaney had another game of calling the offense in a vanilla way; some of these play calls are mind-blowing to many. To say the least, he’s had a bad few weeks.

The defense will have to defend their actions tonight because performances like that won’t win you much in this day and age. Pruitt should know this more than anybody.

This football program has a long way to go before things will look better on Rocky Top; Saturday just proved that point even more.