KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Alabama imposed its will on the Tennessee defense, rushing for 438 yards en route to a 49-10 victory on Saturday at Neyland Stadium.
The No. 9-ranked Vols (5-2, 2-2 SEC) were a depleted crew to be sure, six starters missing from the defense against a No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide team (7-0, 4-0) featuring one of the most explosive dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation in Jalen Hurts.
Tennessee coach Butch Jones gave credit to Alabama for its game plan, and while acknowledging his team’s injuries, he wasn’t willing to use them as an excuse.
“(Hurts) did a good job of getting the ball laterally and being able to puncture your defense vertically,” Jones said. “We had way too many missed tackles.
“We pride ourselves in stopping the run, and that’s unacceptable.”
It was the most yards a Vols defense yielded since surrendering 444 in a 55-23 loss to Auburn in 2013.
It also marked Alabama’s most yards rushing since the Tide went for 451 against Tennessee in a 56-28 win in 1986.
Hurts, a freshman, led the charge with 132 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries.
Tailback Bo Scarborough was even more efficient, breaking off an 85-yard TD run in the fourth quarter to cap the scoring and finish with 109 yards on five carries.
Alabama said it recognized the Vols were depleted with injuries entering the game, and things got even worse when both starting tackles — Kendal Vickers and Kahlil McKenzie — got knocked out of the game with injuries.
“They didn’t have a lot of depth, and that’s why we went fast,” Tide tight end O.J. Howard said. “We saw they didn’t have a lot of depth on defense, and we kept fast tempo for the whole game, and they got tired.”
Vols defensive end Derek Barnett pointed to Hurts’ ability to get to the corner.
“They kept hurting us on the QB run. That’s the play that was getting us,” Barnett said. “We just need to be really critical during film because we are going to see some other teams who can do the same thing, and have a quarterback that can run the ball as well.”