| NEWS The defense carried the offense for a change, picking up the slack en route to Alabama's 13th straight win over Tennessee:- Crimson White

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For all the times Alabama’s transcendent offense has carried the defense, it was about time the defense returned the favor.

With superstar quarterback Tua Tagovailoa out of the game after sustaining an ankle injury on a second-quarter sack, Alabama’s defense outscored Tennessee’s offense over the Vols’ next five drives en route to a 35-13 victory — the Crimson Tide’s 13th straight over its longtime rival.

“It was good that we had that challenge that we had to face,” senior corner Trevon Diggs said. “We had to really step it up and test our defense and see where our heart was. We got a lot of guys with a lot of heart.”

Alabama led 28-13 midway through the fourth quarter, but Tennessee was in the midst of an eight-minute, 14-play drive to get back within one score.

The 14th play of the drive was a fourth-and-goal quarterback sneak from the 1-yard line. Vols quarterback Jarrett Guarantano tried to jump over the pile, but freshman linebacker Shane Lee popped the ball out.

Diggs spotted it immediately and made a play he’ll remember for a lifetime: a 100-plus-yard fumble return for a touchdown.

“I seen the ball, scooped it and scored,” Diggs said. “… It was a lot of green grass and everyone was on the inside bunched up. It was probably my favorite play since I’ve been here.”

The touchdown extended the Crimson Tide’s lead to 22 points when it just as easily could’ve been eight. It capped a strong statement from the defense, which had shown cracks in its previous three SEC games, allowing more than 20 points and 380 yards in each.

After Tagovailoa went to the locker room, the defense forced three three-and-outs, scored on Diggs’ return and allowed just one field goal.

Tennessee did have its opportunities throughout the game, driving inside Alabama’s 7-yard line four times. But two of those ended in field goals due to a false start and two holding penalties, and the last one resulted in seven points the other way.


After the game, coach Nick Saban said the defense played “a lot better” except in one situation: third down.

Tennessee was 7-for-15 in converting third downs, not including a pass interference penalty by sophomore corner Patrick Surtain II that gave the Vols first-and-10 inside the 20-yard line instead of fourth-and-10 from the 34.

“We had too many opportunities to get off the field on third down,” Saban said. “… It kept a lot of their drives going and that helped them maintain possession of the ball and in some cases, affect field position.”

After Alabama went three-and-out on its first possession of the second half, it punted from its own 13-yard line. The punter was not freshman Will Reichard, who re-injured his hip flexor on his only punt of the game, nor was it sophomore Skyler DeLong.

It was third-string walk-on Ty Perine. All the freshman from Prattville did was boot a 42-yarder across midfield, drawing a fair catch and one of the loudest cheers of the afternoon.

Following another three-and-out at the end of the third quarter, Perine struck again, booming a 51-yard punt to the Tennessee 12-yard line. As Tennessee’s returner began weaving upfield, Perine came sprinting in as the last line of defense and made the tackle himself.

“I saw [Perine] punt two punts and he punted them really, really well,” Saban said. “I mean, really well. … We thought that it’s time for him to get an opportunity based on some of the struggles that we’ve had at that position.”

Redshirt junior Terrell Lewis had a career game, tying his career highs with seven total tackles and two sacks.

Lewis forced a Tennessee three-and-out late in the third quarter with an eight-yard sack while Alabama was leading 28-13. After Diggs’ touchdown return, Lewis forced another three-and-out with a 12-yard sack that gave the Crimson Tide the ball back with five minutes left, leading by three scores.

“Man, it’s fun. It’s really my last time getting to play Tennessee and then at the same time, my first time really playing against them,” Lewis said. “To me, it was really just a fun game.”
 

Bamabww

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I'm glad the defense got a little credit this week. They are improving and while not the juggernaut defense of yesteryear we loved (and maybe yearn for), they can play with anyone we'll face.
 

utstnx

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Well the fact that our offense has been so good.....the D hasn't had to step up as much. But now that Tua is hurt......We have no buffer for poor play, Bad D, sooooooo many penalties. CNS and the staff are gonna have to clamp down on these guys now more than ever. Gotta get creative on play calling, D gotta step up even more, gotta have smarter play..IE....too many penalties. UT has 3 terrible QBs and are as sloppy as us on penalties. If we don't get it together by the LSU game.....i'm afraid they will mud stomp us.
 

mando

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Interesting narrative I am seeing this morning from the talking heads. The narrative is w/o Tua bama will not even win the division. Maybe that will help other areas of the team and they will prep better and pay attention to detail to clean up things. Could end up being a good thing for Bama. Would not mind some of the guys getting a chip on their shoulders.
 

50+yeartidefan

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Interesting narrative I am seeing this morning from the talking heads. The narrative is w/o Tua bama will not even win the division. Maybe that will help other areas of the team and they will prep better and pay attention to detail to clean up things. Could end up being a good thing for Bama. Would not mind some of the guys getting a chip on their shoulders.
Without TUA Bama will not win division!
Running game aint Strong enough to carry team....
D aint strong enough to carry team
Special Teams ain’t strong enough to carry team...
Even with great receivers....got to have qb to get them ball
 

TerryP

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Interesting narrative I am seeing this morning from the talking heads. The narrative is w/o Tua bama will not even win the division. Maybe that will help other areas of the team and they will prep better and pay attention to detail to clean up things. Could end up being a good thing for Bama. Would not mind some of the guys getting a chip on their shoulders.
And then there's this narrative.

Bama, playing it's back up quarterback for half of the game, beat a UT team 35-13.
LSU, playing it's starting quarterback for the entire game, beat a MSU team, 36-13.
UT beat Mississippi State 20-10.

So many are in this "look who they've played" mode with little, or no, consideration for who MSU and UT has played. If Bama beating UT in their situation is being compared to LSU beating MSU which one has the better win? The team playing the backup or the team playing the starter?

I'm not a fan of transitive wins just like I'm not a fan of those who construct a narrative to fit their view. We're still hearing "look at LSU vs Texas" and I'm still saying "Texas who?" If I fall into the group of only looking at UT this past weekend I'm forced to also say "Kansas has a better offense than LSU."

Context is a foreign word wrapped in an alien dialect?
 

mando

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Lets hope it is a don't care with respect to Tua but with the exception of a couple of games, I think we are looking at 15-20 point wins instead of 30-40 with Mac at QB. Those still count as wins. A couple of games may indeed be the difference in not winning the division but here is hoping Tua's bionically repaired ankle heals up in no time!!!

With regards to D and Running game. Both are improving. I get as frustrated as anyone especially with the D, but anyone watching the games has to be seeing weekly improvement in both areas.
 

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