The University of Tennessee hosted the Alabama Crimson Tide in an epic battle reminiscent of the disadvantaged David versus the mighty Goliath. Only this time the ending was far different with the underdog, Tennessee, losing to the Crimson Tide 44-13.
For Coach Derek Dooley the game was of seminal importance as the Vols have now racked up four SEC losses. This disappointing record has some fans calling for Dooley’s ouster.
UT quarterback Tyler Bray got off to what Dooley termed a “Jumpy start.” Bray finished 13 for 27 for 184 yards with two interceptions and no touchdowns. Bray declined to meet with reporters in the post-game interviews as he has after each game this year.
”We got whipped by a great football team in just about every phase,” Dooley said. ”I’m really disappointed we didn’t execute a little better on offense. That’s probably the thing I was a little surprised at. The quarterback didn’t play well. I’m not sure why.”
Alabama’s defense seemed invincible and the offense proved almost indomitable.
Alabama’s A.J. McCarron threw for a career-high 306 yards and four touchdowns. The Tide has scored at least 30 points in each of their first seven games, the longest streak to start a season in school history.
Amari Cooper caught seven passes gaining 162 yards, setting a school record for the most receiving ever by an Alabama freshman. He scored on a 23-yard reception in the first quarter and a 42-yard catch in the third. Cooper also had a 30-yard touchdown in the third quarter that was overturned by a penalty.
T.J. Yeldon ran for 129 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries for his second consecutive game running at least 100 yards.
”We just kept grinding and grinding,” Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said. ”We squandered a few opportunities at times, but I think the key to the drill was just keep playing and play the next play. Compete and be relentless in how you do it.”
Cooper opened the scoring and set the tone for the game when a coverage breakdown by Tennessee allowed him to get all alone in the right corner of the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown. Yeldon added a 1-yard TD run in the second quarter after C.J. Mosley’s diving interception of Bray’s wayward pass gave the Tide the ball on the 32-yard-line.
The Tide continued to dominate throughout the first half giving Alabama a lead of 23-10 at halftime.
The Vols’ best hopes for a second-half comeback were extinguished after they lost the ball on downs after fighting to reach the Alabama 33 early in the third quarter. After Bray threw a third-and-1 incompletion, Tennessee linebacker A.J. Johnson took a fourth-down snap out of the Vols’ ”Beast” formation but was unable to penetrate the Tide defense and failed to reach the first down.
Alabama finished the Vols with three consecutive TDs in as many drives. The first came when McCarron connected with Cooper on a 42-yard touchdown pass that extended the Tide’s lead to 30-10 in the third quarter. McCarron threw to Kenny Bell for a 39-yard completion that made it 37-10, Yeldon darted 43 yards to score.
Tennessee has lost 11 of its last 12 SEC games and is 0-14 against the Top 25 since Dooley took over the program in 2010. Many frustrated fans are losing patience with the coach. This was evidenced by the mass exodus of fans during half time and throughout the second half.
Tennessee will square off against South Carolina October 27 in Columbia. Kickoff is 12 p.m.
By Michael Williams