TUSCALOOSA — For the thirteenth year in a row, the Third Saturday in October belongs to Alabama. In a game that saw the University debut its new lighting system in Bryant-Denny Stadium, the top-ranked Crimson Tide took down Tennessee, 35-13 Saturday night.
TUSCALOOSA — For the 13th year in a row, the Third Saturday in October belongs to Alabama. In a game that saw the University debut its new lighting system in Bryant-Denny Stadium, the top-ranked Crimson Tide took down Tennessee, 35-13 Saturday night.
Despite the win, which extends the longest win-streak by either team in the history of the series, the biggest news coming out of Tuscaloosa Saturday was the status of Alabama's Heisman hopeful quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
Tua came out of the game midway through the second quarter and never returned, finishing his night with 12 completions, 155 yards, and an interception. Backup quarterback Mac Jones finished the game in Tua's place.
“Tua will probably be out for a week,” head coach Nick Saban said after the game. “I dont' know the extent [of the injury], when he twisted his ankle, but I think he probably won't be able to play in this next game. He will get another MRI and all of that in the morning and decide exactly what to do from there.
“Mac [Jones] did some good things. We think Mac is capable and we have a lot of confidence in Mac, I think the players have confidence in Mac.”
Jones went 6-for-11 for 72 yards through two and a half quarters.
Alabama (7-0, 4-0) jumped out to an early 7-0 lead after Najee Harris capped off the first drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. The Tide threatened to go up two scores before the Vols got pressure on Tua and forced only his second interception of the year and returned it to midfield.
“It was a huge swing in the first half when we had two at the two and threw a pick,” Saban said. “We actually had a chance to go up 14 to nothing but they ran it back 50 yards and end up scoring a touchdown.”
Tennessee (2-5, 1-3) held the game close in the early stages, trailing 21-10 at the half. The Volunteers put up 231 yards of total offense, including 117 in the air and 114 rushing.
“This was the first time we really had to grind one out,” Saban said. “I think the defense played a lot better, except for one situation in the game, which is 3rd down. We had too many opportunities to get off the field on third down. I think they were 7-of-15 on third down, which kept a lot of their drives going and helped them maintain possession of the ball and in some cases affect field position.”
Alabama pulled away in the second half, scoring a touchdown in each of the final two quarters.
Tennessee kicked a fieldgoal to make it 21-13 to start the second half before Alabama strung together a 10-play, 76-yard drive that ended when redshirt freshman wide-receiver Slade Bolden threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Miller Forristall.
The Vols had the ball to start the fourth quarter and marched down to the Alabama one-yard line. Quarterback Jarrett Guarantano, who was in for the injured Brian Maurer, fumbled on 4th and goal. Trevon Diggs scooped it up and ran back for a 100-yard touchdown fumble return to put 'Bama up 35-13.
“Another huge swing was on Diggs' return for a touchdown on 4th-and-1 at the 1,” Saban said. “Great goal line stand by our players down there to even be in that situation. I was really pleased with the way our guys ground it out, found a way to win.”
Alabama struggled throughout the night with penalties, committing eight for 93 yards.
“We had a couple passing offenses on third down that probably wouldn't have been balls that they would have caught,” said Saban. “There were a lot of penalties in the game. That's something that we've really be emphasizing with our players. We didn't have a lot of undisciplined penalties in this game. We just have to do a better job playing the ball so we aren't getting pass interference penalties on third down.”
Alabama is back in Tuscaloosa next week, likely without their starting quarterback, to face Arkansas.