Tennessee was riding high after a close victory against South Carolina, but Alabama reminded the country why they are the top team in the country with a crushing 45-10 win.
Going into Alabama is a tough proposition for any team, heck they only average less than one loss at home per year since 2009. However this wasn’t just a loss, it was a reminder of just how far Tennessee has to go before they reclaim their spot as one of the SEC’s top teams.
The Vols looked lost on defense, screen passes all over the field gashed them, and the Vols defensive coaching staff never attempted to bring any additional pressure up the middle. I am slow to criticize the Vols defense after an above average season, but having no pass rushing threat and linebackers that couldn’t shed blocks didn’t inspire confidence.
On offense, the Vols looked like most teams do against the Bama defense: slow, confused and outmatched. Quarterback Justin Worley was pulled off of the field at halftime due to re-aggravating a thumb injury that had plagued him earlier in the season. The one bright spot of the day came from his replacement, true freshman Joshua Dobbs who looked like a major upgrade from Worley.
Dobbs just possesses a different skillset than Worley. Worley is a quarterback who doesn’t like to wing it around, but who won’t blow you away with his running ability or arm-strength. Dobbs on the other hand has no fear of when throwing the ball, and had his wide receivers not dropped a few catchable passes he likely would have posted more than just 10 points on the day.
If fans zoom out, they can see that Butch Jones is moving in the right direction despite big losses in Oregon and Alabama. The Vols have been close with two top-ranked SEC teams, and even managed to beat a top-11 team. Fans may be frustrated now, but as Butch re-builds this program it is important to remember that the Vols haven’t been to a bowl game since 2010 and if they return to one in a “rebuilding” year it is a big positive.
Tennessee faces surprisingly tough competition over the next two games, starting with a big game against Missouri.