Upon Further Review: Alabama 35, Tennessee 13
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Usually by the time mid-October rolls around, the University of Alabama football depth chart is pretty much set in terms of who will play the rest of the season and who might get an opportunity down the road.
Yet Ty Perine isn’t just any player.
He not only walked on to the team, but worked his way into being in uniform for some home games. When freshman Will Reichard aggravated his hip pointer against Tennessee the coaches turned to the freshman from Prattville for its next two punts.
Think about that for a moment. Not only was he making his Crimson Tide debut in a packed Bryant-Denny Stadium, but in the Third Saturday in October.
Perine became the 22nd Crimson Tide student-athlete to make his first career appearance this season, when he took the field in the third quarter his 42-yard punt drew more cheers than most starters receive.
Previously, Alabama’s longest punt this season was just 44 yards. Perine topped that with his second effort, a 51-yard punt that led to a 22-yard return, but he was credited with the tackle along with Henry Ruggs III.
Between that and Slade Bolden throwing a touchdown pass out of the wildcat formation, and Crimson Tide fans have a couple new favorites.
Play of the game: The 100-yard scoop-and-score fumble return by senior cornerback Trevon Diggs sealed the victory for the Crimson Tide.
Player of the game: Junior running back Najee Harris finished with 105 rushing yards and two touchdowns, along with four receptions for 72 yards, to lead all players with 153 all-purpose yards.
Statistic of the game: Alabama’s offense averaged 8.4 yards per snap and scored three touchdowns with starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in the game. Without him, the Crimson Tide averaged 5.4 yards and scored just one offensive touchdown.
Talk about hustle: Kudos to ESPN sideline reporter Molly McGrath for canvassing the outside parking lot looking for Tagovailoa and getting a security guard to tell her that the quarterback had already left and returned in an ambulance. She was really moving around inside Bryant-Denny Stadium as well, working both sidelines — and probably had some blisters on her feet Sunday morning.
Here are 10 things you might not have noticed from the latest installment of the Third Saturday in October, a 35-13 victory for Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium:
1] Call it the Crimson Zone: Tennessee had the ball four times inside the 20-yard-line, yet both teams had the same number of touchdowns during those plays, one.
2] Explosive plays: Nick Saban defines them as a run of 13 or more yards, or a pass of 17 or more yards. Alabama’s goal is nine per game. It had a season-low seven.
3] No, your other left: Tennessee ran to its left, at Alabama’s freshmen and away from senior Raekwon Davis. The running backs took 17 carries between the center and the left tackle, which included all three gains of 10-plus yards. It accounted for 110 of the Volunteers 114 rushing yards (although sacks aren’t factored out).
4] Oops: Tennessee senior wide receiver Jauan Jennings, who had been quoted as saying that Alabama didn’t look like national contenders, was the player who had the ball knocked loose by junior safety Xavier McKinney resulting in the interception by senior safety Jaren Mayden.
5] Who was thrown at? Tennessee spent most of the game trying to get the 6-foot-3 Jennings on Mayden and senior defensive back Shyheim Carter in coverage. The two combined had 13 passes thrown in their direction, resulting in five catches for 48 yards and the interception.
6] The penalties: Both sides were disgruntled with the 21 flags thrown in the game (not including the plays that had multiple infractions). The officials were calling it tight on both sides, but the two most questionable calls were the roughing the passer on Tennessee linebacker Darrell Tylor and the pass interference call on McKinney. For any Volunteer fans who want to argue the point, three penalties that absolutely should have been called and weren’t were the intentional grounding when the ball didn’t reach the line of scrimmage (and linebacker Anfernee Jennings awarded the sack); a face mask or hands to the face on tight end Austin Pope for grabbing redshirt junior linebacker Terrell Lewis on the very next snap; and on the quarterback sneak for UT’s first touchdown the either right side of the line wasn’t set enough or jumped before the quick snap.
7] Yards after the catch: The 121 total was a season low. Harris led the Crimson Tide with 48.
8] Hard to find: Junior wide receiver Jerry Jeudy didn’t have a reception after taking the targeting hit, although he did have two passes thrown in his direction. Junior wide receiver DeVonta Smith only had one catch for 18 yards after being suspended for the first half. Contributing to both was Alabama didn’t attempt a pass during the fourth quarter.
9] Fool me once: One of the reasons why the quarterback sneak on fourth down didn’t work, besides the guard pulling and giving freshman linebacker Shane Lee a shot at Jarrett Guarantano, was Tennessee had already run it twice before including on the first touchdown. The guess here is that after three straight handoffs went nowhere Guarantano thought he could jump over the top and reach out with the ball before anyone reacted. Instead, he lost it … and then Pruitt lost it on the sideline.
10] Announcing his presence with authority: With two more sacks, Lewis doesn’t just have the most on the team, but is tied for the SEC lead with six. Jennings is second with four and, surprise, Lee is third with 2.5
Bonus: Following the interception, Tagovailoa tried to get in the way of the returner, only to get grabbed and thrown to the ground by linebacker Quavaris Crouch. However, if you haven’t seen the video of Henry Ruggs III and Jaylen Waddle chasing down the Tennessee player following the interception, check it out. If gives one an indication of just how fast they really are.