Tennessee Stat Book
Alabama coach Nick Saban isn't normally one to heap praise on his team, but Saturday night was just such an occasion.
"I've never been prouder of our team ... this is the best we've played, in my opinion, since the Clemson game,'' said Saban, whose No. 2-ranked Crimson Tide moved to 8-0 (5-0 SEC) with a 29-9 victory over Tennessee (3-5, 1-4) at Neyland Stadium.
"That was a complete game for our team, and it certainly needed to be,'' Saban said. "(Defensively) it was probably the best we have played for an entire game.''
The Tide kept the Vols out of the end zone until there were 7 minutes, 26 seconds remaining, when a couple of pass interference penalties led to Josh Briscoe's 10-yard TD reception.
Saban said Alabama's ability to hold UT to a field goal after a fumbled punt in the first quarter gave the Vols possession at Alabama's 5 was key.
"That was huge,'' Saban said. "It was a fantastic punt; I'll say that 47 (Britton Colquitt) is an outstanding punter. That ball was a bomb.''
The Vols also started a drive at the Alabama 32 after a partially blocked punt, but again, the Tide defense rose to the occasion, leading to a 51-yard missed field goal.
"It was a big momentum boost,'' Tide sophomore linebacker Rolando McClain said. "We feel we can control the game with our defense.''
Alabama held UT to 10 first downs and 173 total yards.
The Vols trotted Eric Berry on the field on offense on one occasion, throwing a quick screen to him for 3 yards.
McClain said the Tide was prepared for more.
"We knew him (Berry) or 4 (Gerald Jones) would be in the game,'' he said. "We had a defense set up for them, and we were ready.''
Alabama's offensive line also was ready in the trenches.
"I don't know if we wore them down, but they had a few injuries and ended up rotating some guys,'' Tide guard Mike Johnson said. "They lost 55 (Dan Williams), and he was an excellent player. That was a pretty big blow to them.''
Williams had four tackles and a QB hurry before leaving the game in the third quarter with an injury.
Crimson Tide quarterback John Parker Wilson was 17 of 24 passing for 188 yards as Alabama came out throwing.
"We were having trouble handling the blitz,'' Saban said. "We knew going into the game we had to get their defense off balance and break some of our tendencies of being a run-heavy team.''