Riley Blevins' thoughts
There's not a tougher measuring stick in college football than Alabama, hence the No. 1 ranking and title of defending national champs.
Riding the momentum of an overtime nail-biter against Georgia and an upset win against South Carolina, reality smacked Tennessee in the face.
It hit hard.
A loss was certainly expected against the juggernaut Crimson Tide, but you'd think the Vols could compete for at least a few drives. Maybe even a quarter.
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There was no zest to Tennessee.
The defense was laughable. Picking up 15-to-20 yards has never looked so easy.
Alabama scored touchdowns on its first four possessions.
The game ended with in a wince-worthy 45-10 final.
Joshua Dobbs was thrown into a game where the fate was already sealed.
While Dobbs' efforts won't show up in the win column, they were exciting nonetheless.
The freshman gun-slinger turned a nightmare loss into a semi-watchable game.
Dobbs dazzled with his legs when needed, picking up 19 yards on three carries.
And there was only a slight lull in his passing game. Dobbs was 5-of-12 for 75 yards. All of Tennessee's came with Dobbs at the helm.
Yes, there was a fair share of Dobbs-injected excitement in the second half.
Dobbs pulled on the zone read, cruising for a gain of 12 and moving the sticks.
He rolled left on play action and fired across the field to find Marquez North for a first down.
When a play broke down inside the goal line, Dobbs darted out of the pocket to set up a score (a slide would be encouraged next time, though).
Dobbs was the contest's lone bright spot.
Tennessee's special team woes resurfaced. Yes, Michael Palardy continues to be a weapon, but the kickoff unit was dismal. Twice Christion Jones notched returns of more than 50 yards. If inches make champions, then 50-yard kickoff returns ensure blow-out losses.
Once the Joshua Dobbs-induced buzz fades, this was just another hair-pulling chapter added to the Tennessee-Alabama rivalry.
No matter how exciting Dobbs was, football is a team sport.
One team was far superior Saturday afternoon.
Defense — F
Offense — D
Special teams — C -
Danny Parker's thoughts
It's hard to think much of anyone predicted Tennessee to shake up the world of college football and beat No. 1 Alabama in its backyard. However, as coach Butch Jones said, the Volunteers played their worst half of football this season and didn't do themselves any favors.
Pass-catchers didn't do Justin Worley and the offense any favors Saturday. Dropping, or whiffing, catchable balls against one of the country's best defenses can't happen. More run plays should have been called, and the team continues to pound the ball better when the signal-caller is under center.
The lack of pass rush was glaring. A.J. McCarron is essentially a sitting duck and often loses his fundamentals when defenders get in his face. Tennessee couldn't get off blocks and affect the fifth-year senior, and he torched them for it. The Tide netted 204 on the ground and have some spectacular runners.
Although he underthrew a ball to Josh Smith that was an easy touchdown, Joshua Dobbs gave the offense a spark and gave a look at what the future of this offense looks like as he's the fastest quarterback to take the field for the Orange & White since Brent Schaeffer.
Michael Palardy punted the mess out the ball. Jalen Reeves-Maybin continues to make big tackles on coverage units (and earned late time at linebacker). Devrin Young gave the Vols return game some semblance of life, which is huge for the field position battle.
Defense — D
Offense — C
Special teams — B
Randy Moore's thoughts
There's a difference between being a good team and playing a good game. Tennessee fans were reminded of that today at Tuscaloosa. Tennessee is not a good team but the Vols played good games against Georgia (overtime loss) and South Carolina (two-point win), creating an unrealistic level of optimism.
So, after playing exceptionally well two games in a row, the Big Orange reverted to form against top-ranked Alabama. The result: A 45-10 beat-down.
How much of Tennessee's offensive futility was due to quarterback Justin Worley's injured thumb is anyone's guess. Freshman Josh Dobbs clearly gave the Vols a spark in the second half – partly because he provides a running threat that Worley does not.
Tennessee's defense made Bama look better than it is. Vol defenders lack SEC-caliber speed and athleticism but they made matters worse by tackling poorly and getting caught out of position a lot. The Tide drove 49 yards in three plays, 65 yards in eight plays, 66 yards in 12 plays and 81 yards in nine plays on its first four possessions en route to a 28-0 lead. Basically, the game was over midway through the second quarter.
Tennessee's offense sputtered but everyone not quarterbacked by Johnny Manziel has struggled against Bama's defense this fall. Conversely, the Vol defense was absolutely awful, even allowing a 98-yard touchdown drive.
The Big Orange allowed two long kickoff returns but, otherwise, the special-teams play was excellent. Michael Palardy averaged 46 yards per punt with two pooch kicks downed inside the 2-yard line. He also nailed a 37-yard field goal and kicked off reasonably well. Devin Young recorded a couple of nifty kickoff returns.
Defense — F
Offense — C
Special teams — B
Josh Woodward's thoughts
Tennessee ran into a buzz saw today, they just don't have the horses to compete with the elite teams. I did like what I saw from Josh Dobbs, the kid has a good arm and made plays with his feet. It will be interesting to see where Butch Jones goes from here.
Offensively they couldn't move the ball in the first half, way to many mistakes by Worley and the receivers. Alabama didn't respect Tennessee's pass game and loaded the box to stop the run and Tennessee couldn't do either. Marquez North continues to make great catches, they just need other receivers to step up.
Defensively this game shows needs to improve on the defense line, the Vols couldn't get pressure on the quarterback and he picked them apart all day. They need to improve on tackling and quit lower their shoulder and not keep their head up. This game shows they need to recruit more speed on the defensive side of the ball.
The coverage on special teams was way below average, Alabama had good field position the whole first half and took advantage of this position. Palardy continues to kick well, the senior was been money all year and one of the biggest turn arounds in college football.
Defense — F
Offense — D
Special teams — D