Alabama Football: Defensive Report Card vs Tennessee

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports
Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports /
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Alabama Football
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Alabama Football Special Teams: F

The Alabama special teams units have made several mind-numbing mistakes this season, but this is the first time those errors contributed to an Alabama loss.

Small mental lapses plagued the Tide in all three phases of the game. Alabama committed penalties on two of its first quarter kick returns, giving the offense poor starting field position. Tennessee converted both opportunities into short fields for its own offense, and scored touchdowns both times to jump on Alabama early.

The first critical special teams mistake came in the second quarter, after the Alabama defense had forced a three-and-out down 21-10. The punt was short and awkward, and return man Kool-Aid McKinstry got way too close to the ball before dodging out of its path at the last second.

Mistakenly believing McKinstry had touched the ball, reserve linebacker Quandarrius Robinson hustled into the frame in an attempt to recover it. Naturally, Robinson mishandled the ball and gave the Vols an opportunity to recover. Tennessee capitalized, scoring just three plays later to stretch its early lead.

Late in the fourth quarter, Alabama’s special teams struck again. With an opportunity to win the game, kicker Will Reichard missed a field goal for the fourth time in the last three weeks. It marked the second straight game in which Alabama relied on Reichard to win or cement a game, and the normally-clutch kicker missed both tries.

In Will Reichard’s defense, he made his previous two attempts in the Tennessee game. Additionally, the game-winner was a 50-yard attempt. Reichard wasn’t helped by poor play calling and clock management, nor a rare dropped pass by Jahmyr Gibbs just two plays earlier.

Still, something is off with Alabama’s kicker. Although he previously appeared to be unflappable, it seems that his confidence is somewhat shaken, and understandably so.

Next. Offensive Report Card vs Tennessee. dark

Alabama fans should maintain confidence in Reichard. He is arguably the best kicker in school history, and if Alabama is going to bounce back and win a championship this season, I have a feeling it will need a hefty contribution from Will Reichard.