Saturday, October 25, 2008

Roll Tide!

FINAL - Alabama 29, Tennessee 9
Not a bad game, but not a great one either. The defense was strong, but Alabama didn't really drive the ball consistently on offense. The Crimson Tide is now 8-0, and that's nothing to complain about, but they're really going to have to play better Nov. 8 at LSU. Next week, 'Bama hosts Arkansas State for homecoming -- and let's hope there's no shocking upset.

4th Quarter -- 7:26 -- Tennessee goes 63 yards in six plays for a touchdown. Two-point conversion attempt fails. Two 15-yard pass interference penalties hurt 'Bama on that drive. Alabama 29, Tennessee 9

9:43 -- TOUCHDOWN! -- Now 'Bama's really wearing out the Tennessee defense. Strong running by Glenn Coffee and Roy Upchurch key an 80-yard drive for the Tide (with another big penalty against Tennessee). Upchurch runs 4 years for the TD. Alabama 29, Tennessee 3

14:14 -- Tennessee gets a first down, but then a penalty sets them back. Punt. Alabama takes over at their 20.

3rd Quarter -- 1:38 -- TOUCHDOWN! -- Now that's what I'm talking about. Alabama goes 79 yards in 12 plays, burns more than six minutes off the clock. The key play was Wilson's third-down pass that got a first down at the Tennessee 36. Then five carries by Roy Upchurch pounded it down to the 1-yard-line, where Wilson carried for the TD. A two-point conversion attempt failed. Alabama 22, Tennessee 3

8:03 -- Three downs and punt for Tennessee again, and Alabama starts from their own 21. Man, a good solid drive would be an excellent idea now.

10:28 -- 'Bama picks up a first down, then faces a 4th-and-1 at the Tennessee 13, decides to bring on Leigh Tiffin for the field goal. Alabama 16, Tennessee 3.

13:44 -- Three downs and punt for Tennessee, Alabama returns the punt down to the 33.

HALFTIME -- Tennessee put together a drive all the way to the Alabama 14 before two costly penalties set them back, and a field-goal attempt was blocked. So we dodged a bullet. But at halftime, Tennessee's leading in time-of-possession (16:06 to 13:54), and if it keeps up like that, the Tide defense will start getting tired. 'Bama really, really needs to get its running game on track.

2nd Quarter: 3:10 -- TOUCHDOWN! -- Finally, John Parker Wilson gets the passing game going with two quick connections to Julio Jones. On 4th-and-1 from the Tennessee 3, Glenn Coffee carries for the touchdown. (And that 66-yard drive puts 'Bama ahead once more in time-of-possession.) Alabama 13, Tennessee 3.

5:44 -- Tennessee can't move the ball, misses a field-goal attempt, Alabama takes over at its own 34.

6:40 -- Three running plays net 9 yards, so that at least Alabama doesn't have to punt from the end zone. But what a lousy punt! Tennessee takes over at the Alabama 32.

9:25 -- Tennessee puts together a drive, but stalls at midfield. Punt pins down Alabama at its own 3 yard line. Tennessee now leads in time-of-possession. The Crimson Tide offense needs to put together a good drive here.

14:39 -- Tennessee's defense is hitting hard, Alabama can't move the ball. Punt. Dang it.

1st Quarter: 0:21 -- Stopped 'em again -- 3 downs and out for the Vols. No complaints about the defense -- Tennessee's only got 11 total yards in the first quarter -- but Alabama simply must establish its ground game and put together a sustained drive.

1:37 -- Alabama kicks a field goal. We're still relying too much on the passing game, not driving it like we should. Alabama 6, Tennessee 3.

3:37 -- Tennessee goes 3-and-out, shanks a punt, Alabama takes over at midfield. Now, let's drive it, boys.

6:28 -- Alabama goes three downs and out. So far, nine of our 13 plays from scrimmage have been passes. This bodes ill.

Dang. We stopped Tennessee and forced them to punt, then Javier Arenas fumbled the ball and set the Vols up at the 'Bama 10. A turnover by special teams wastes a solid defensive effort. We managed to keep them out of the endzone, but they got a field goal. Alabama 3, Tennessee 3.

Alabama takes the opening kickoff and drives 50 yards down to the Tennessee 21 before settling for a field goal. Alabama 3, Tennessee 0

Tonight, 7:45 p.m. ET, Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, ESPN. Tennessee (3-4) is having an off-year, but the Vols will be psyched up for the No. 2-ranked Crimson Tide (7-0), which last week lost 362-pound nosetackle Terrence Cody, a potential all-conference player who had become the anchor of the Alabama defense. Fortunately, Cody's knee was only sprained, but he'll still miss this week's game. That means John Parker Wilson and the Tide offense will need to take it up a notch, control the ball and mount some clock-chewing drives in order to relieve the pressure on the 'Bama defense.

Being a Southerner means understanding that politics is not as important as football. America can survive an Obama presidency, but if Alabama loses, the terrorists win.