Jalen Hurts is the vehicle of destruction on Lane Kiffin’s revenge tour. In the two games against Kiffin’s former teams, Hurts has accounted for seven touchdowns, two with his arm and an impressive five with his legs. Three of those five rushing touchdowns came during the beatdown of the Volunteers.
Hurts is still finding his way passing, and he still makes some mistakes. However, he stresses defenses in new ways and just makes plays.
3rd and 15: Hurts is in the gun with Damien Harris and ArDarius Stewart in the backfield. Derek Barnett gets a great jump off the snap and easily beats Cam Robinson outside. Hurts gets to the end of his five step drop, feels the pressure, and moves to his right. Hurts doesn’t seem to realize how much trouble he’s in and keeps his eyes locked downfield. Instead of checking down, he tries to set his feet to throw deep; and Barnett crashes into him from behind, popping the ball loose. After some bouncing and rolling, Tennessee comes up with it on the Alabama 11 yard line. Their only touchdown of the game would shortly follow.
2nd and 14: After the costly turnover on the previous drive, Cool Hand Jalen has responded admirably. He converted a 3rd and long through the air, and the offense is moving. Alabama’s has its trusty 11 personnel out of the shotgun with Josh Jacobs in the backfield. TE Miller Forristall is the H-back on the left. Stewart is wide right. Forristall comes behind the line to the right. DE Corey Vereen is left unblocked, and he cheats inside a little. Hurts keeps it and takes off. He runs parallel to the line, patiently waiting for the blocks to develop. Once they do, he cuts it upfield. Forristall gets an excellent block on the defensive back. Stewart blocks his man just enough, and Hurts turns the jets on. He outraces the rest of the secondary, and Alabama is back ahead by two possessions.
2nd and 2: The offense has moved inside the redzone after starting at their own 22 yard line. At the very least, a chip shot field goal is looking likely. Hurts is under center. Jacobs is the lone set back. Howard, Gehrig Dieter, and Calvin Ridley are bunched right with ArDarius Stewart wide right. Hurts is supposed to fake the pitch right and roll back to his left, but he stumbles over his own feet right out the gate. This throws the timing completely out of whack, and DT Shy Tuttle and Derek Barnett are mere yards away. Rather than scrambling more or just taking the sack to fight another day, Hurts tries to throw while backpedaling. Tuttle is in his face, though, and bats the ball up. Barnett grabs it for the interception. Hurts tackled him, fortunately; but he never should’ve thrown that ball.
1st and 10: Alabama is in the gun with Josh Jacobs to the left of Hurts. Ridley is the lone receiver on the left. O.J. Howard motions to H-back and comes across the line to block Derek Barnett. Hurts pulls the ball and takes off running to his left. He’s already ripped off two 35+ yard runs, so the corner opposite Ridley is sucked in to stop the QB run. This leaves Ridley wide open. Hurts quickly stops and transfer the ball back to his throwing hand and tosses an easy pass for a 12 yard gain.
3rd and 5: Hurts is in the gun with Harris to his left. O.J. Howard is on the right side of the line, and the freshman wide receiver Trevon Diggs is wide right. ArDarius Stewart comes on the field late, so the officials give Tennessee a chance to substitute. The clock is ticking, and Alabama is just able to get the snap off. Hurts takes a couple steps back and darts off on a planned QB run. Jonah Williams hesitates and forces the blitzing defensive back to step a little bit outside, allowing Hurts to squirt through the lane. Diggs does just enough to block his man. DB Micah Abernathy evades the rumbling Williams, however; and he attempts to cut Hurts off. Hurts jukes and leaves him on the ground, gaining another six yards. He runs it on for his second touchdown of the day on the ensuing play.
1st and goal: Hurts is under center, and Jacobs is the lone back. Alabama has trips right plus O.J. Howard on the right side of the line. Hurts bootlegs to his right, and the receivers flood that side of the endzone. Jacobs gets a good chip on the linebacker, allowing Hurts plenty of time and plenty of room. Even though Tennessee has five defenders drop into the endzone to cover three receivers, Ridley gets enough separation that Hurts probably could’ve hit him had he wanted to. But with no defenders on him, he just tucks it and runs. The one cornerback who could’ve made a play has to completely turn himself around, which leaves him no time to get in a position to make the tackle. Hurts scoots by him into the endzone to drive the dagger in the heart of any hoped for Tennessee comeback.