Happy Monday, everyone. We have officially reached Tennessee Hate Week. For once, the Third Saturday in October will actually be played on... the Third Saturday in October, when Lane Kiffin will attempt to run up the score in front of 100,000+ creamsicle-adorned critters. We will get to that shortly.
First off, let's wrap up the game in Fayetteville:
Some of what happened to Alabama's secondary, which entered the game having allowed just 188 passing yards per game and four total touchdowns all season, was head-scratching. Guys were out of position. There was an uncharacteristic lack of discipline. The secondary got into poor man-to-man situations, had bad eye discipline and took poor breaks on passes. Players at times didn't know formations or whether they had help. There were busted coverages galore.
"Almost every play that happened in the first half and the second half, really, we gave to them whether it was a busted coverage, not knowing the certain formation -- everything we really gave to them," Humphrey said. "That's all it was."
Nick Saban wasn't all that happy with the pass defense, while noting the big yardage number was partially a byproduct of the game's pace. Arkansas was playing from behind all night, forcing the passing situations. It threw the ball 48 times, giving the Razorbacks 8.3 yards per throw compared to Alabama's 14.9. Saban said a lot of the issues were minor, just split-second calls the defensive backs had to make with the ball in the air.
But blown coverages, poor technique and bad decision-making gave Allen a chance to make plays in spite of the pressure he was facing. Sure, Minkah Fitzpatrick intercepted Allen three times.
Saban though was perturbed by the breakdowns that kept happening. "Our players are better than that," Saban said. "We didn't have very disciplined eye control. And [Allen] made some really, really good throws. The combination of that was not very good."
"It’s always a positive; it’s always good," defensive lineman Jonathan Allen said as a qualifier, not the central point, while assessing the Trojans’ failure to score a touchdown.
"But as I said, I feel like there’s a lot of plays that we left out there as a defense. They only scored 6 points — they could have scored way more."
At Alabama, there is always room for improvement. Even if the 6-0 Crimson Tide, who have been ranked No. 1 since the start of the season, make it unscathed through a rugged four-game stretch that began with a 49-30 victory on Saturday at No. 16 Arkansas (4-2), expect plenty of self-recrimination.
The pass defense is certainly the topic du jour. While I still believe that much of the issue can be blamed on a lack of focus as the game got out of hand early - these are still college students, after all - the types of mistakes we saw on Saturday need to be greatly reduced going forward. It's great to see the players taking responsibility. As noted in that last link, no one is harder on Alabama than Alabama.
"I lost my father when I was in my first year of graduate school," Saban said. "He's a fine young man and player. For him to have to go through that, our thoughts and prayers are with his family. I wanted to tell him that, and try to encourage him to some kind of way embrace the good memories and the good times that he had with his father because that'll be something that he can keep with him forever."
Classy move, Coach.
Michael Casagrande has a few additional links about the Arkansas game here.
On to Hate Week:
There are so many reasons to hate Tennessee, which we will outline separately. Right now, the best reason to hate them is that they have sucked sufficiently to hurt our strength of schedule on an annual basis. You know that incessant whining from Baton Rouge about having to play Florida every year? It came to pass for one reason: because Alabama gets to play Tennessee, and Tennessee sucks.
Seriously, who can respect a team whose coach acts like this over beating a mediocre team that is coming off a beat-down in Oxford?
Butch Jones' reaction to the touchdown catch by Jauan Jennings. pic.twitter.com/FRQB3RBg09— Josh Ward (@Josh_Ward) October 1, 2016
If this coaching thing doesn't work out, maybe Butch can try out for head cheerleader. Of course, rumor has it that he has his sights set elsewhere:
On to the game:
The five Vols starters who did not return to the game:
• DT Danny O'Brien, who flew back with the team after being taken to a hospital for observation with an apparent head injury.
• Center Dylan Wiesman was knocked out of the game with 8 minutes, 45 seconds left in the first quarter after a hit that knocked his helmet off.
• OG Jashon Robertson left with 6:04 left in the fourth quarter with an unspecified injury.
• LB Cortez McDowell was being evaluated in the shoulder/neck area with 3:15 left in the third quarter.
• DT Kendal Vickers suffered an undisclosed injury with 12:50 left.
At one point, five defensive backs had injuries.
Their sideline was a virtual infirmary in College Station, which likely won't bode well for them with a much healthier, and far superior, Alabama team coming to town. On paper, this game would be a mismatch if the Vols had everyone healthy.
The former Alabama running back rushed for 127 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries in the Volunteers' 45-38 double-overtime loss to the Aggies. He also caught eight passes for 161 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown with 0:41 seconds, which tied the game and sent it to overtime.
Kamara has probably had the most success of all of the Alabama transfers. If Jalen Hurd is unable to go on Saturday, he will play a starring role in the running game again.
Judging by Alabama's revamped scheme, you've joined the offensive revolution. Maybe more out of necessity than preference, but there it was Saturday at Arkansas -- everything you used to hate. Zone read spread, no huddle, hurry-up. You've got yourself a dual-threat quarterback who bounces around like a Skittle on linoleum. More plays, more points. So nouveau. So cool. So Kiffin.
There is no denying it: Alabama plays fast and takes advantage of the college ineligible receiver rules, two concepts for which Saban has expressed disdain in the past. He has shown a willingness to adapt to the modern game, perhaps the greatest factor in the staying power of this dynasty.
That's about it for today. Have a great week.