It was a tough first half for Alabama Football on Saturday afternoon in Tuscaloosa. Before the first quarter ended Tennessee led 13-0. Without some stubborn Crimson Tide, first-quarter, red zone defense, Tennessee’s lead could have been 21-0.
Midway through the second quarter, a Jalen Milroe to Jermaine Burton touchdown pass cut the lead to 13-7. The Tide defense followed by stuffing the Vols on 4th down run. Momentum in the game swung to the Tide until the Vols made a lucky interception in the end zone. Tennessee took all the momentum back with an 80-yard touchdown drive, pushing the score to 20-7 at halftime.
In the halftime locker room, Saban told the team,
"You’ve got a choice to make. What do you want to accomplish, what do you want to do? Everybody has got to choose what they want."
The response from the Crimson Tide offense was two plays and a touchdown. At 20-14, the game changed. The result was a 27-0, dominating second-half performance by the Crimson Tide. Nick Saban summed it up by saying,
"It was a great team win with pretty good offense and really good defense"
In the post-game media review session, Saban was asked about the Tide’s slow start in the first half. His response was,
"Eight weeks in a row and the grind that we’ve had the past four or five weeks with games in our league, psychologically we probably had a little bit of a tired team early in the game."
Saban’s concern about that eight-week grind may have been why on Thursday night, he implored Alabama football fans to make a difference in the game. On Saturday afternoon, Crimson Tide fans delivered. After the game, Saban trotted around the stadium showing his appreciation. In the media review, Saban said,
"Our fans were fantastic. They had a huge impact on the game in terms of the penalties at the end of the game."
Nick Saban’s post-game comments can be seen below.
Alabama Football Made Adjustments
Alabama football fans had a chance to be so loud and happy in the second half for another reason. Nick Saban, Kevin Steele and Tommy Rees made adjustments. And the adjustments worked on both sides of the ball. The Tennessee staff, and especially Josh Heupel did not know how to counter the Tide’s adjustments. Tennessee went into the game as the SEC’s top rushing team, at 5.88 yards per carry. Tennessee’s Jaylin Wright had a 7.14-yard average for the season. Against the Tide, Wright rushed for a 2-yard average.
Even with Wright and Vols’ running back Jabari Small being shackled by Bama’s defense, Josh Heupel tried a second 4th and short run. No one should have been surprised when Bama slammed the door again.
As Saban said, it was a great win for the team and the program – but more work lies ahead.