Alabama 58, Tennessee 21: Tua Tagovailoa shines, Jarrett Guarantano hurt; Tide crush Vols
Had Alabama fans desired, they could have lit celebratory cigars before the first quarter ended Saturday.
No. 1 Alabama swarmed Tennessee from the onset of a 58-21 victory in front of 97,087 at Neyland Stadium.
The Vols (3-4, 1-3 SEC) didn’t resemble the team that upset Auburn a week ago. Of course, they faced a team that is functioning on a different level than the rest of college football.
Alabama (8-0, 5-0) has won 12 straight in the “Third Saturday in October” series, the longest winning streak in the rivalry’s history.
“They outplayed us today," Vols nickelback Baylen Buchanan said. "We made a lot of mistakes, but they outmanned us. They outplayed us. That’s that. That’s a fact.”
Here are five things we learned.
The game was over by the second quarter
The Crimson Tide led 21-0 less than seven minutes into the game. The margin was 28-0 entering the second quarter. After one quarter, Alabama had a 217-6 advantage in total offense.
The Vols haven’t scored an offensive touchdown in the first quarter this season and have been outscored 69-16.
Jarrett Guarantano exits
Alabama linebacker Mack Wilson pummeled Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano in the chest after he released a second-quarter pass that went for a 30-yard completion to Josh Palmer.
Guarantano and Palmer were injured on the play. Neither player returned.
Guarantano exited with what was described as a collarbone injury on the CBS broadcast.
"He'll be back," coach Jeremy Pruitt said when asked about Guarantano's status for next week.
UT’s injuries are mounting. A pair of starters — safety Micah Abernathy (ankle) and tight end Dominick Wood-Anderson (leg) — did not play.
Tua Tagovailoa is darn good
Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa strengthened his Heisman Trophy campaign. He was 19-of-29 for 306 yards with four touchdown passes. He gave way to Jalen Hurts early in the third quarter.
“He has good weapons, and he’s a great weapon," UT safety Nigel Warrior said. "Two great weapons, you can do whatever with that. They’re showing it. They're showing the world that you can make something happen with great weapons."
The highlight was Tagovailoa and his favorite receiver, Jerry Jeudy, going off script for an 11-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Tagovailoa rolled out of the pocket, Jeudy deviated from his route and Tagovailoa found him across the field in the end zone.
For the season, Tagovailoa has 25 touchdowns and no interceptions.
Giving Nick Saban a quarterback this talented has proven unfair to the competition.
Keller Chryst looks decent in relief
Don’t listen to knee-jerk talk about a Vols quarterback controversy. If Guarantano is healthy for next week’s game against South Carolina, he should remain atop the depth chart. Remember, he amassed a career-best 328 passing yards a week ago against Auburn.
But backup Keller Chryst looked competent in his most extensive playing time of the season. He was 9-of-15 passing for 164 yards, with second-quarter touchdown passes to Ty Chandler and Tyler Byrd.
“Keller came in and made some good throws," Pruitt said.
Vols have poor discipline
On the first play of third quarter, Chryst tumbled into the end zone for a safety while trying to make a handoff. Vols running back Jeremy Banks took it as an opportunity to smack talk an Alabama player, and he was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Banks’ penalty was one of many instances of the Vols’ lack of discipline. Cornerback Alontae Taylor was ejected for a flagrant hit personal foul penalty.
“I think a lot of it is poise and experience," Pruitt said. "Alontae punched the guy — punched the guy in the head right in front of me. I saw him do it.”
Wide receiver Jauan Jennings was involved in offsetting unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. Offensive lineman Chance Hall was flagged for unnecessary roughness.
“They lined up and whipped us between the whistles the whole time, and we made silly mistakes," Pruitt said. "That’s my fault. I’ve got to do a better job of getting them to do it the right way.”
LIGHT THAT STOGIE, BUTCH:Former Vols coach Butch Jones a focal point of Alabama's victory celebration