Before the fans, his coaches, probably even Julio Jones himself had an inkling, Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy knew that the junior wide receiver was going to have a huge night at Tennessee.
It was the Crimson Tide’s second offensive snap of the game and No. 8 lined up to the right, worked his way downfield into a gap and turned toward the sideline where the pass sailed perfectly over the cornerback and into Jones’ hands before Tennessee's safety could get over to help out.
It wasn’t the impressive catch that got McElroy’s attention so much, rather the coverage. It told him that the Volunteers were going to try and man-up against Jones, with just one defender, and take their chances he wouldn’t torch them.
“It’s almost, I don’t want to say disrespect, any time they press Julio without a safety over the top it’s like ‘What are you doing?’ is kind of what I’m thinking in my head,” said McElroy, who proceeded to repeatedly burn the home team by going to his favorite receiver again, and again, and again …
When the cigar smoke eventually cleared from Neyland Stadium that night, Jones had caught 12 passes and set an Alabama single-game receiving record with 221 yards.
It set the tone in the series for the decade. It was Alabama's fourth straight win against the Vols, a streak that continues. Only once did Tennessee finish within three touchdowns, 19-14 in 2915.
- Oct. 23, 2010: Knoxville, Alabama 41–10
- Oct. 22, 2011: Tuscaloosa, Alabama 37–6
- Oct. 20, 2012: Knoxville, Alabama 44–13
- Oct. 26, 2013: Tuscaloosa, Alabama 45–10
- Oct. 25, 2014: Knoxville, Alabama 34–20
- Oct. 24, 2015: Tuscaloosa, Alabama 19–14
- Oct. 15, 2016: Knoxville, Alabama 49–10
- Oct. 21, 2017: Tuscaloosa, Alabama 45–7
- Oct. 20, 2018: Knoxville, Alabama 58–21
- Oct. 19, 2019: Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35–13
As great as Alabama was during the decade, the dominance was telling. A lot of Crimson Tide fans consider the Alabama-Tennessee game a bigger rivalry than the Iron Bowl.
Yet the Crimson Tide outscored the Volunteers 407-124.
Derek Dooley was Tennessee's head coach (2010-12). He was followed by current Crimson Tide analyst Butch Jones (2013-017) and former Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt (2018-present), with Jim Chaney and Brady Hoke serving as interim coaches during the transitions.
Jones was the first of many to have huge games against the orange and white, in some cases career-best statistically (including Amari Cooper having 224 receiving yards in 2014).
“I was waiting for that to happen,” said sophomore safety Robert Lester, who grew up about a block away from Jones in Foley, Ala., and had known him longer than just about anyone.
What made the performance even more remarkable was that Jones did it less than two weeks after having surgery to repair a fracture in his left hand. He felt an enormous amount of pain with every catch, even during practice and warming up.
“That’s crazy,” center William Vlachos said at the time.
This is the first in a series that will appear before New Year's Day, counting down the top 10 Alabama football moments of the 2010-19 decade. Some information from the book "Decade of Dominance" was used.