SIGNS OF GROWTH: Tennessee's valiant effort against Alabama shows upward trajectory of program
By: John Dunn
The All Vol Call in Show
Over the course of the last decade and a half, there have been a multitude of clichés uttered by coaches, whether it was "doing the right things at practice," "having five star hearts," or building the program "brick-by-brick." It seems that Josh Heupel understands that you have to build foundations before you can build a stable structure. This philosophy was evident in Tennessee's valiant effort against the fourth-ranked Crimson Tide on Saturday night.
Through various lead changes, self-inflicted adversity, and the grueling task of handling one of the best teams in college football, the Tennessee Volunteers put up a valiant fight against the mighty Crimson Tide, proving that they are well on their way to re-building the program back to its former glory.
Although the Vols came up short against Alabama, they gave the Tide everything they wanted for the majority of the game. The score was truly not indicative of how close the game was throughout the majority of its duration.
The Vols outscored Alabama 14-7 in the opening quarter before Alabama stormed back to take a 21-14 lead, which would stand at the half. Tennessee was its own worst enemy in the second quarter, accumulating various false start penalties, which allowed Alabama to drive back the Volunteers' offense.
Tennessee's defense was playing inspired in the third frame, forcing Alabama into back-to-back three-and-outs, and a field goal on their third drive of the quarter. Answering with a field goal of their own following a blocked punt, the score sat with the Tide in control by a single touchdown, 24-17, to start the fourth quarter.
Alabama scored a touchdown behind the legs of Bryce Young, as he fumbled crossing the plane, but recovered his own fumble for the touchdown. Tennessee answered with a quick touchdown on a long pass from Hendon Hooker to Cedric Tillman, bringing the score to 31-24 in favor of the Tide.
Alabama added another touchdown before Tennessee had another chance on offense, trailing 38-24. After accumulating back-to-back first downs, Hooker threw an interception after some miscommunication with his wide receivers. After returning the interception for a big chunk of yardage, the Tide were left with great field position, and capitalized, extending their lead to 45-24 with just under nine minutes remaining in the game.
On the ensuing Tennessee possession, the Volunteers struggled to get much going. Faced with a fourth-and-six to go, Hooker was taken down short of the line to gain, giving Alabama the ball back deep in Tennessee territory. With just over five minutes remaining in the game, the Tide struck again, further extending their lead to 52-24.
With one more drive that stalled out, Tennessee gave the ball back to the homestanding Tide with just over two and a half minutes remaining in the game, allowing Alabama to drain the remainder of the clock and secure a 28-point victory, their 15th straight, over Tennessee.