Tide Specialists Good Against Vols

Football historians can cite numerous examples of the kicking game being paramount in the classic Third Saturday in October clashes between Alabama and Tennessee. Legendary coaches Robert Neyland for the Vols and Paul Bryant for the Crimson Tide put utmost importance on special teams.



In Alabama's 44-13 victory over Tennessee in Knoxville Saturday night, Crimson Tide special teams had a lot of good, some not so good.

With Christion Jones nursing an ankle injury (though not so severe to keep him out of playing at split end), Cyrus Jones was Bama's punt return man and back deep on kickoff returns against Tennessee. Cyrus did very well, in fact better than his raw statistics. As a kickoff return man, he took one back for 27 yards. On punt returns he had four returns for 59 yards with a long return of 32.

The rub with his punt return work was that Alabama was guilty of a holding call on one runback. Instead of having a 48 yard return into Tennessee territory, Jones was credited with only 23 yards (to the point of the hold, the Alabama 38) and the 10-yard penalty back from there started Bama at its own 28, effectively a 25-yard penalty.

Fortunately, from there, Bama drove 72 yards in four plays (the big one a pass from A.J. McCarron to Amari Cooper for 54 yards) to a touchdown.

Jones also bobbled a punt late in the fourth quarter, but Dee Milliner was there to recover it for Bama.

It's always good when Cody Mandell doesn't get a lot of playing time. The Crimson Tide punter was called on only twice, and had a nice 44 yard average. Tennessee did return one for 13 yards, but net punting was a respectable 37.5 yards.

Cade Foster didn't have as good a day kicking off as some he has had. He kicked four of the eight into the end zone for touchbacks. Alabama allowed one nice return, 45 yards, and another was returned 36 yards, which helped the Vols to a 27.8 average on kickoff returns. One kickoff to the 8 was returned only to the 21, one kick to the 5 was returned to the 22.

Of course, what Foster is remembered for is missing two field goals, a 44-yard attempt that was wide right and a 45-yard try that was wide left.

Jeremy Shelley, the so-called "short" field goal kicker made his only try, a 34-yard effort. Shelley was also credited with 5-5 on extra point kicks. Alabama missed one PAT, but it was because McCarron mishandled the ball while putting it down for Shelley to kick.

All-in-all, pretty good, but just enough wrong for Coach Nick Saban to have something to kick about.

There was also a little discontent regarding a kick, but it didn't have anything to do with Alabama's special teams. With less than four minutes to play and trailing 44-10, the Vols faced fourth and goal at the Alabama 3. Tennessee elected to kick a field goal.

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