TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — After weeks of harping on the effectiveness of both Alabama football's offense and defense on third down, Nick Saban had to be pleased with his program after its 52-24 homecoming victory over Tennessee on Saturday night inside Bryant-Denny Stadium.
In fact, Saban confirmed that he was pleased himself after the game.
"Bryce made some critical third-down scrambles that kept drives alive," Saban said. "I think a big difference in the game was they were 2-of-13 on third down and we were really good on third down. I didn't like the way we got started in the second half with two three-and-outs right off the bat but I think the difference in the game was our ability to control the ball.
"I mean, our time of possession was way up there and a lot of that is due to the fact that we converted third downs."
Indeed, the Crimson Tide defense held the Volunteers to just two third-down conversions for the entirety of the game. Additionally, Tennessee registered 150 yards on offense in the first quarter alone, but Alabama prevented them from picking up a single first down all the way until the fourth quarter.
Needless to say, it was an impressive night for the Crimson Tide defense.
"Some of it's just part of football and things happen so things that we preached to our team on defense was not to be stuck on the situation whether it's anything good," defensive back Jalyn Armour-Davis said. "Whether we were up by 14 or gave up, so it's just playing the next play. Not being focused on negative things from the past and continue to trust each other.
"Continue to trust our coaches and the game plan and just do our job and execute so that's what we did."
Alabama defense was the only unit on the field that was highly productive on third down on Saturday night, though. For the Crimson Tide offense, quarterback Bryce Young and his teammates were able to convert 15-of-20 third-down attempts. While the defense was effective at getting off of the field on third down, the offense was equally as effective at staying on it.
However, wide receiver John Metchie III said after the game that he still thinks there's room for improvement in the category.
"It's definitely something that we could have done better just keeping the chains rolling," Metchie said. "But it was very effective. Being able to keep the chains moving on third down, helping your team get in the red zone and score — it was really important."