Kool-Aid McKinstry was running toward the end zone, and even if he didn’t make it, the Crimson Tide appeared to be in control. Alabama had a lead in the final minutes Saturday and was about to have the football deep in Tennessee Vols territory.
There was a flag. Pass interference on Alabama.
The play was coming back. Shortly after, Tennessee tied the game.
The Crimson Tide, whether it was early in the game or toward the end, just couldn’t get out of its own way.
Tennessee took advantage of a missed field goal late, and the Vols kicked the game-winner at the buzzer to beat Alabama 52-49 at Neyland Stadium. Tennessee snapped a 15-year losing streak to Alabama.
Here are observations and takeaways from the game between No. 1 Alabama (6-1, 3-1 SEC) and No. 8 Tennessee (6-0, 3-0).
Defense struggles against Hendon Hooker and company, outside of a few turnovers
Alabama was well aware of the tempo with which the Vols offense operates. It was talked about repeatedly throughout the week. Knowing about it often didn’t matter, though.
The Crimson Tide struggled to slow Tennessee’s fast-paced offense. Blink, and the Vols had already run several plays. That quick tempo prevented Alabama from affecting Hooker, and the Vols offense rolled early. Tennessee had already scored three touchdowns by the end of the first quarter.
Hooker and the receivers continued to find soft spots in coverage, and Alabama struggled to find ways to disrupt a usually clean pocket for Hooker. That led to plenty of offensive success for the Vols.
Alabama eventually stopped the bleeding and had a few impressive plays.
Still, the defense couldn’t stop giving up plays late, in particular to Jalin Hyatt. He cooked the Crimson Tide secondary for 207 receiving yards and five touchdowns.
Young was injured recently? He certainly didn’t look like a player fresh off a shoulder injury.
After missing the previous week’s game vs. Texas A&M, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner was back to his old tricks as Alabama’s quarterback: making defenders miss, extending plays, throwing footballs into tight windows.
Jahmyr Gibbs continues to be a gamer
Outside of Young, the next player you would want to have the football in an important moment is Gibbs.
He froze defenders at times. He also proved clutch when it came to scoring. He had three rushing touchdowns by the end of the third quarter.
In another 100-plus-yard rushing day for Gibbs, he proved to be the best player on the Alabama offense not-named Young.