TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama likes to hit on explosive plays. They swing momentum and make a statement.
Alabama had a few big plays against Tennessee on Saturday. But it mostly about control.
The Crimson Tide ate up just over 40 minutes of possession time, ran 92 plays and racked up nearly 600 yards of offense in a 52-24 victory.
"I think the difference in the game was our ability to control the ball," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "Our time of possession was way up there, and a lot of that was due to the fact we converted third downs."
Indeed Alabama did, 15 out of 20 times.
Tennessee did hang around until the fourth quarter, despite going nearly two quarters without a first down. It was the big plays Tennessee hit on that kept the game close.
"They didn't sustain drives even though they were going fast," Saban said. "They scored three times on big plays. On the third-and-8 (touchdown in the first quarter) we busted a coverage - half the guys playing one coverage, the other half playing another - or we could have got off the field then."
After a second Tennessee score in the first quarter, Alabama changed the defense. Instead of playing the middle of the field, expecting Tennessee to run, the Crimson Tide played more split safeties.
Saban said the defense couldn't play its dime package like it did against Mississippi State, but had to play nickel because of Tennessee's fast pace.
"But the big plays we gave up, that was all the (defensive backs)," Saban said. "We didn't play the coverages correctly and we have to get those things fixed."
Check out the video above where Joey Blackwell of BamaCentral and Jake Nichols of SI Volunteer Country break down Alabama's 52-24 victory over Tennessee.