Crimson Tide Survives Without Tagovailoa
The Alabama Crimson Tide enjoyed its cigars late Saturday night after defeating the Tennessee Volunteers 35-13. However, the score isn't indicative of how close the game was for most of the contest. Nevertheless, Nick Saban's era of Tide football is undefeated, 13-0, against the Volunteers.
The game itself created more problems and concerns for the Tide moving forward. Most concerning is the health of Heisman front-runner quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Tagovailoa left the game after a sack which saw the defender land awkwardly on the right ankle, keeping the school's all-time leader in passing touchdowns out of the game for the remainder of the contest.
His injury is ruled a high ankle sprain. Saban said after the game Tagovailoa would miss a week or two. Tagovailoa underwent a tight-rope procedure Sunday morning, the same one he had on his left ankle a year ago.
In stepped Mac Jones, who has served as the backup for the entire season. While he showed some nervousness during his time, he was efficient, completing six of his 11 passes for 72 yards. Most importantly he didn't turn the ball over.
Despite Jones' efficiency, the offense wasn't the same. Jones didn't drive through his throws and short-changed some of his passes, stalling the offense.
Luckily, Tennessee linebacker Darrell Taylor made the second worst play of the night for the Volunteers, hitting Jones after a pass and shoving the backup on his way to his feet. The play would have resulted in a three and out by Jones and the Tide offense.
The call is obviously a questionable one, especially since the official penalty was roughing the passer. Regardless, the Tide marched the field afterward and scored on a wildcat pass from Slade Bolden to Miller Forristall.
The second flash of luck, countered with awareness from Saban's defense, came from Tennessee's backup quarterback in the fourth quarter.
While Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt has caught some flack for his reaction to the play, the breakdown was all Jarrett Guarantano. The play was a designed run to the left as left guard Trey Smith pulled left as did the runningback. Guarantano called his own number and paid for it, as Trevon Diggs scooped the fumble and took it all the way home to seal the 13th straight victory of the Third Saturday in October rivalry.
It's not a popular belief, but the Volunteers shot themselves in the foot more than the Tide made plays. Of the Vols three trips to the redzone, two resulted in just field goals and the other was the aforementioned game-ending fumble recovery. Credit to the Tide defense withstanding, Guarantano's lack of ability ultimately decided the game.
Moving forward, the Crimson Tide will be without its best player. According to edge defender Terrell Lewis, Tagovailoa told his teammates he'd "be back for LSU."
Only Arkansas and a bye week stand between the number one team and the "Game of the Century: Part II" in Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Alabama is still an overwhelming favorite over the basement-dwelling Razorbacks. But survival will still play a part in that contest as well.