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Vols Report Card: Alabama Makes It 14 Wins In A Row

From left Tennessee Head Coach Jeremy Pruitt and Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban speak before a game between Tennessee and Alabama at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn. Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020.

For the third time this season, the Vols have failed the test they face almost every Saturday. While the questions on the test change every week, it seems like Tennessee’s coaching staff keeps trying to answer the questions the same.

Why not change it up? Is our coaching staff the kid in the back that ate paste and broke crayons?

Quarterbacks: B

While I believe Jarrett Guarantano isn’t the future of Tennessee football, against Alabama he played admirably.  Guarantano, completed 13-of-24 passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns and finished with a 78.5 quarterback rating.

This is surprising considering he last weekend against Kentucky, Guarantano, went 14-of-21 for 88 yards and two pick-sixes. What surprises me most about this game is the fact that Guarantano didn’t throw a pick at all. Sure he didn’t blow the world up, but he didn’t play terribly. I feel like he did just enough to ensure he will be the starter for the foreseeable future.

“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 focused on the things he needed to improve,” Jeremy Pruitt said. “He did a nice job managing the offense today.”

I agree, he did do a good job. That being said, I feel like while he did complete some great long balls, he couldn’t hit the wide side of a barn when it comes to completing a pass in a short yard situation.

Running Backs: C

Once again, Eric Gray doubled the carries of Ty Chandler, with 20 more yards on the game. Gray carried the ball 19 times for 57 yards, while Chandler carried to ball 10 times for 37 yards.

It makes sense that Gray would get more carries, as the Vols are trying to plan for the future at running back. That being said, in the beginning of the third quarter, Gray fumbled the ball in a pivotal moment for the Vols, allowing Alabama to score a touchdown.

Offensive Line: B+

Against one of the top defenses in the country, the Vols’ offensive line played surprisingly well. They did their best in my opinion, and didn’t allow a single sack during the game.

However, they did allow eight tackles for a loss and didn’t protect Gray on the play where he fumbled the ball.

Sure, it wasn’t on them for what happened, but at the same time, had they offered up more protection against the run against Alabama, then the Crimson Tide wouldn’t have recovered the ball and ran it back for a touchdown.

Wide Receivers and Tight Ends: B

Yeah, it wasn’t a great game, but at the same time, Josh Palmer and Jalin Hyatt showed up. Hyatt showed up late in the game, with two receptions for 86 yards and a touchdown.

Meanwhile, Palmer, caught four balls for 57 yards and a touchdown.

The rest of the receivers didn’t perform as well, whether that’s up to Guarantano or the play calling is up for debate.

Overall Grade: B

The offense scored 17 points against a stout Crimson tide defense, in a situation where they knew they couldn’t win. It wasn’t the worst game of the season though, but it wasn’t what Tennessee fans wanted.

They wanted a change at quarterback and didn’t get it until late into the fourth quarter, where Brian Maurer would go 1-of-1 for one yard.

Defensive Line: D

Pass rush was nowhere. Alabama quarterback, Mac Jones, had all the time in the world to pass the ball, which allowed Jones to tear the Vols apart.

Another problem with the Vols’ defensive line, is the fact that the Vols had five tackles for loss, one of which came from the defensive line in Roman Harrison.

Harrison did pick up one of the two sacks against the Crimson Tide, which is why they didn’t get an F.

Linebackers: C

The linebackers did the best that they could, but without a consistent pass rush, it’s tough for linebackers to thrive in that situation.

The position group only got one sack this game, however, they did account for three of the tackles for loss against the Crimson Tide.

Henry To’o To’o, the team captain, struggled this weekend, only grabbing two tackles this game, a far cry from last weekend against Kentucky.

Secondary: F

Once again, the Volunteer secondary gets a failing grade, giving up 417 passing yards. While they didn’t give up a passing touchdown, which is shocking, they got destroyed again in the middle of the field.

They also got destroyed on the slant, as well as allowing Jones complete 80 percent of his passes for 387 yards.

That stat line is paired with the fact that Jones is one of the best quarterbacks in the conference.

However, it is unacceptable in year three to allow that many yards and an 80 percent completion rate.

Place Kicking: A+

Congratulations Brent Cimaglia, you’ve done a fantastic job once again.

Whenever your number is called, you’ve done great. You kicked a 33-yard field goal, as well as went 2-for-2 on extra points.

Thank you for being consistent, keep on keeping on Mr. Cimaglia.

Punting: A

Paxton Brooks punted the ball six times for an average of 45.8 yards per punt.

Brooks did a great job and is currently solidifying Tennessee as being “Punter U.”

Brooks’ longest kick of the game would be a 48-yard kick, which is actually pretty solid. You and Cimaglia are fantastic.

Return Game: C

Velus Jones Jr. had a poor day, with only two returns for 33 yards.

Unfortunately for him, he had to to play against Alabama, which this will happen whenever you have to play against the No. 2 team in the country.

Overall Grade: B

It was a slow day for Jones Jr. but it was a great day if you were a kicker for the Vols.

Unfortunately, whenever the best position group in the game for you was the placekicker and punter, it tells you everything you need to know about the game.

Offensive Play-Calling: F

Who the hell runs it three straight plays in a pivotal situation against Alabama? Jim Chaney, that’s who.

Chaney had himself a day and not in a good way. He got absolutely battered around and didn’t figure out that the long ball was the way to go until the Vols were already down big.

Chaney might be fighting for his job after this season, especially because Tennessee’s offense has struggled heavily in games where they shouldn’t, like the Kentucky game.

Defensive Play-Calling: F

Once again, the Vols defense failed to show up. This time it was more upsetting because we had to suffer through Jones absolutely destroying the team on slants.

While the Vols struggled this game, they did hold Harris from breaking 100 yards, which was mostly just because Alabama head coach Nick Saban, had mercy in the fourth quarter.

Overall Grade: F

Pruitt’s team, once again, looked outmatched from the start. A far cry from last season’s game against Alabama, where the Vols were in it until the fourth quarter.

Tennessee got steamrolled for the third week in a row, started a quarterback that doesn’t inspire the team to do better and got blown out of the water.

If the Vols want to succeed, they need to do better against Arkansas in two weeks, otherwise the restless fans may be renting moving trucks and parking them outside of Pruitt’s house.

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