Alabama Football: Defensive Report Card vs Tennessee

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports
Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports /
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Alabama Football
Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports /

Alabama Football Defensive Backs: F

In its biggest test of the season, the Alabama secondary was absolutely torched to the tune of 385 yards and five touchdowns on nearly 13 yards per attempt. Safety DeMarcco Hellams in particular was often isolated (and victimized) against Tennessee slot receiver Jalin Hyatt. Hyatt won vertically against Hellams and other Bama DBs over and over again, and was responsible for over half of Hendon Hooker’s yardage and all five of his touchdown passes.

There is no excuse for this secondary’s lack of preparation and execution in this game. For Alabama to return to the national championship game, it may have to go through the Volunteers again in Atlanta. Should the Tide make it back to the college football playoff, it could face another explosive offense in Ohio State. Drastic changes would have to be made for the Alabama pass defense to be ready for games like these.

Before it can even begin to worry about the postseason, Alabama plays against Mike Leach’s air raid offense next week. The Alabama secondary should not leave the practice field this week as it prepares for that game.

In defense of the Alabama secondary, it at least appeared to make some game-changing plays in the second half.

DeMarcco Hellams became the first player to intercept Hendon Hooker all year, briefly redeeming his earlier blunders. Kool-Aid McKinstry seemed to have a game-sealing interception and subsequent return, before the officiating crew convened and called a mysterious pass interference penalty that negated the turnover. Brian Branch made a great play to force and recover a late Tennessee fumble, but the play was quickly blown dead on another questionable decision by the officials.

Regardless of the officiating, these potentially game-winning plays by the Alabama secondary would’ve only saved the group from its own horrendous performance. Frankly, this secondary did not deserve to win based on its play for most of the game.