Rapid Reaction: Tennessee fights back, still falls to No. 4 Alabama
The Tennessee Volunteers (3-5, 0-4 SEC) fell 34-20 to No. 4 Alabama. The Vols faced a 20-0 deficit in the first quarter, but saw an offensive boost as third-string quarterback Josh Dobbs revitalized the Tennessee offense.
Here are some quick thoughts from Saturday’s loss.
What it means: Dobbs is the starting quarterback. Not only should he have started the game, put he also made the case that he should have played all season. In an offensive scheme that is run-heavy with a lack of protection from an inexperienced offensive line, the Vols need a mobile quarterback to see consistent offensive production.
What I liked: Tennessee fought back after opening the game with a 20-0 deficit. The Vols narrowed the deficit and found an offensive groove against one of the nation’s best defenses, which could be used as a learning curve moving forward.
What I didn’t like: Tennessee’s inability to stop Alabama’s offense. The Vols entered as the No. 19 total defense in the country, but looked incapable of stopping the Tide on most possessions. Cameron Sutton, who has been one of the SEC’s best defensive backs this season, was dominated by Amari Cooper, who finished with 224 yards and two touchdowns on nine catches.
Who’s the man: Josh Dobbs. Entering midway through the first quarter, the sophomore shined in his first appearance of the season. Dobbs threw for 192 yards, two touchdowns and one interception on 19-of-32 passing. He also led the Vols with 75 rushing yards on 19 attempts.
Key play: Trailing 27-7 with seconds remaining in the second quarter, Butch Jones elected to kick a field goal on 4th-and-1. Jones also chose to attempt a 24-yard field goal trailing 34-17. Capitalizing on short fourth down attempts could have changed the deficit and brought the Vols within a comeback.
What’s next: Tennessee travels to Columbia, S.C., to face the South Carolina Gamecocks (4-4, 2-4) in Week 10. The Gamecocks are coming off a 42-35 loss to No. 5 Auburn on Saturday.