Happy Monday, everyone. The polls are split this week, as the AP saw fit to vote Alabama down to no. 3 after the Texas A&M game, while the Coaches’ Poll still has the Tide at the top.
Before we move on to Tennessee, check out this nugget from Terrion Arnold on the final play of Saturday’s contest.
Looking to the Aggie sideline, Arnold later said he locked in on A&M coach Jimbo Fisher.
“He’s going ‘Evan, Evan, Evan,’” Arnold recalled.
Of course, Evan Stewart was his assignment in the pass/fail moment at the center of the college football universe. A five-star member of Texas A&M’s much-discussed top-ranked 2022 signing class, Stewart lived up to the billing in Bryant-Denny Stadium. Moments earlier his 23-yard catch helped set up this doomsday scenario as the 24-point underdog found itself on the cusp of a second-annual Crimson Tide stunner.
Thanks, Jimbo. Much appreciated, though Johnny Manziel would like a word. He was not happy about that play call. Such is life on the big stage.
John Talty notes that Saturday’s game reinforced just how critical Bryce Young is to this Alabama team.
Jalen Milroe was good enough to beat Texas A&M — he might want to send a fruit basket to Mr. Will Anderson for the assist, but he’s obviously no Bryce Young. Three turnovers can’t happen against a good team, and he should feel fortunate that it wasn’t Alabama’s demise. It was evident Saturday that O’Brien and Co. don’t fully trust Milroe as a passer based on the calls and situations the coaching staff put him in. He’s dynamic as a runner, totaling 83 rushing yards, but he wasn’t able to do much in the passing game against the Aggies. Alabama’s leading receiver, Jermaine Burton, had three catches for 48 yards and a touchdown.
While I maintain that Milroe could use what he learned in the game and play better if he’s needed to face a Tennessee defense that doesn’t quite have the talent level of the Aggies, the thought of him having to face the environment that we will be seeing in Knoxville is a bit unsettling. Hope for the best.
Check out this galaxy brained take from Dennis Dodd.
There will be a narrative emanating from these parts this week that you will have to ignore. The local spin will ask you to disregard those four turnovers by No. 1 Alabama playing at home against a prohibitive underdog. It will ask you to remember the reigning Heisman Trophy winner didn’t play.
If not for those minor details, well, the Tide would have rolled against the Aggies. That’s what they will say. And they will be wrong. Somebody had to cause those turnovers. Texas A&M was missing its starting quarterback, too.
The turnovers were part of it Dennis, but much more important was the fact that Alabama couldn’t pass the football. Yes, without the turnovers they likely win comfortably despite the limitation in the passing game, but to be frank anyone who watched that game and came away thinking the score said anything about the Alabama football team other than “they don’t have a backup QB fully ready to go” is either being dishonest or shouldn’t be paid to write about college football. Maybe both?
Michael Casagrande looked up just how long it’s been since Alabama had such a meager passing output.
— The sack-adjusted run-pass ratio included 73% rushing plays for Alabama. The 111 Tide passing yards were the fewest since the 2017 opener when it had 96. The opponent that day? Jimbo Fisher’s Florida State Seminoles in a game Alabama won, 24-7.
Based on the way that season turned out, I think it’s safe to say that another factor was more impactful where those yardage totals were concerned. Alabama managed all of 103 passing yards in a loss to Auburn that season, and a paltry 21 as they were shut out in the first half of a national championship game that ended beautifully. Turns out that being one dimensional makes it difficult to score points and win.
Who could have imagined that?
Jerry Palm has Alabama as the #3 seed currently.
Ball security will be important next week when Alabama travels to red-hot Tennessee, which will be looking for its first win over the Tide since 2006. Texas A&M’s offense cannot make a team pay for turnovers the way Tennessee’s can. The Tide will be in for a fight even if they are at full strength. If the Vols win, it could reasonably be argued that they become the favorite out of the SEC to earn a spot in the College Football Playoff.
As it stands, Alabama remains the projected No. 3 seed.
Shehan Jeyarajah is doing his job in pushing what his employer hopes will be the highest rated game of the college football season.
But after watching these two teams play, it’s impossible to completely dispel the idea that No. 1 Alabama is vulnerable. Tennessee picked up yet another quality win by crushing No. 25 LSU 40-13 with Cedric Tillman in the lineup. Alabama nearly gave up the game against a struggling Texas A&M squad thanks to major lapses on both sides of the ball.
There’s always a chance that Alabama’s athletes step up to the challenge and beat Tennessee’s receivers in man coverage. But if Young is at all limited, Hendon Hooker is good enough to take over this game.
If there is a potential Alabama loss on the line, there will be eyeballs. The hype for this game is only going to get crazier in the lead up.
This definitely isn’t the way Josh Heupel planned to start the week.
Tennessee football player Jaylen McCollough, a starting safety, was arrested on a charge of aggravated felony assault Sunday, according to a Knox County Sherriff’s Office arrest warrant obtained by Knox News.
A UT spokesperson did not provide a comment when reached late Sunday night. Coach Josh Heupel will be available for comment at his weekly press conference at 12:15 p.m. Monday.
McCollough, 21, is a four-year starter for the Vols. This season he is tied for fourth on the team with 23 tackles. He had seven tackles in Tennessee’s 40-13 win over LSU in Baton Rouge on Saturday.
As usual, the prison-orange color uniforms suit them. It ain’t called the Fulmer Cup for nothing.
This is proper hatred for all things Tennessee.
“I start hearing this ‘Roooooolll’ noise from the Alabama section, which was right in front of me, like they do before kickoffs. Even though it was on the road, they sounded like 50,000 people,” Southern said. “And they’re expecting a kick. My adrenalin’s flowing, and all that noise just overcame me and I kicked it as hard as I could.”
The jug flew over the goal line, and landed on a white check in the Volunteers’ orange-and-white checkerboard end zone. The juice stained the white check orange, distorting the pattern. Now beyond the point of no return, Southern went ahead and finished the job, dumping out the remainder in the end zone and then stomping on the empty jug a few times.
That man is a legend.
In NFL news:
Jalen Hurts and Devonta Smith led the undefeated Eagles to another win, as Smitty caught a career high 10 passes.
Derrick Henry went well over 100 scrimmage yards with two touchdowns in a Titans win.
Quinnen Williams scooped a fumble and didn’t quite make the end zone, but the diminutive Tyreek Hill’s effort to stop him was amusing.
GET OUT OF @QuinnenWilliams WAY— Alabama Football (@AlabamaFTBL) October 9, 2022
Last, we have picked on Saivion Smith around here for a certain big game performance, but to his credit he has never given up his dream of sticking in the NFL. On Sunday, he managed to make it onto the field, but it didn’t last long and ended in scary fashion.
The scene was frightening, with the ambulance coming on the field to take off Smith, who was put on a backboard. A man, who the Fox broadcast said was Smith’s father (via John Niyo of the Detroit News), came out of the stands and got in the ambulance as it left the field.
Smith was immobilized on a backboard. The hit itself, with New England Patriots tight end Hunter Henry, didn’t look particularly violent.
It was a freakish looking play, as all Saivion did was jam Hunter Henry at the line of scrimmage before falling face first and laying motionless. He was reported to have movement in all of his extremities at the hospital, which is a great sign. Best wishes to him in his recovery.
That’s about it for today. Have a great week.