Okay, so Tennessee isn’t on Alabama’s level quite yet. But some interesting things still happened during the Vols’ 58-21 loss to Alabama inside Neyland Stadium on Saturday night.
First and foremost, backup quarterback Keller Chryst came into the game after Jarrett Guarantano went down with an apparent injury and Chryst truly showed what he’s made of. He finally got his chance and he took advantage of it by throwing for 164 yards and two touchdowns on nine completions. He was efficient and looked calm and comfortable at the helm of the offense.
Jeremy Pruitt indicated after the game that Guarantano will be okay, though he didn’t give much more detail than that. If “okay” means that JG will be available to play next week against South Carolina, this obviously forces Pruitt and his staff to decide between a guy who beat Auburn a week ago and a guy who put up a very solid effort against Alabama. My initial feeling is that they’ll try to stick with JG, but we’ll just have to wait to see how things play out.
Jauan Jennings showed, yet again, why he’s become known as “The Dog.” He made some excellent plays against Bama’s secondary and he hauled in 6 passes for 106 yards.
Ty Chandler also came up with a solid performance, running for just 21 yards but catching three passes for 39 yards and a touchdown.
As for the defense, Alabama’s offense is unbelievably good. Like, it might be the most efficient offense I’ve ever seen in college football. It’s completely on another level.
With that said, Tennessee’s defense never stood a chance. They were gauged all over the field and barely knew what hit them by the time Alabama took a 28-0 lead less than 12 minutes into the contest. It was ugly but there was a tiny silver lining: for the second week in a row, the Vols managed to score a defensive touchdown. Jalen Hurts threw an errant pass and Kyle Phillips picked it off and returned it for a touchdown.
It’s not much, but it’s something.
In general, there’s not a great deal to take away from this game outside of Chryst’s unexpected performance. Tennessee was totally overmatched. It’s what we expected and what we got. Tennessee still managed to show fight and resolve but it will be awhile before this squad is truly competitive with the likes of Alabama. Will Muschamp’s South Carolina team is up next on the schedule.
Quarterbacks B+ for KC, C- for JG
Running backs C
Wide receivers C+
Offensive line C-
Defensive line D
Defensive Backs D
Special teams B-