Game recap: UT vs. Alabama
Tennessee Stat Book
There was no fire-and-brimstone speech in the Alabama locker room at halftime of what was then a tight SEC battle.
Just a simple message delivered by Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban.
"I just said that, 'Everything will be more fun guys if we play with more intensity,' " said Saban, whose Alabama team held a 13-10 lead at intermission.
"And that's basically what I think we did. I was really proud of the way we came out and dominated in the second half of the game.''
The seventh-ranked Crimson Tide scored on its first four drives of the second half en route to a 41-10 victory over Tennessee before a crowd of 102,455 at Neyland Stadium Saturday night.
It was Alabama's largest margin of victory over the Vols in Knoxville in the series' storied history.
Even so, Saban was quick to give the Vols (2-5 overall, 0-4 SEC) credit for their game plan and aggressiveness in the first half against Alabama (7-1, 4-1).
"Tennessee, even though I thought we had good intensity and played tough in the first half . . . they had a good plan and they took advantage of some things,'' Saban said.
"We just needed to ramp it up a notch or two to get to their level, and I think we wore them down in the second half.''
Alabama receiver Julio Jones wore out the Vols' cornerbacks throughout the night, setting a single-game school record with 221 yards on 12 catches.
"We had Julio one-on-one; we'll take that match up all day long,'' said Tide quarterback Greg McElroy, who was 21-of-32 passing for 264 yards.
Jones, whose record broke the previous mark of 217 yards set by David Palmer against Vanderbilt in 1993, credited his offensive line for its protection and McElroy for making the right reads.
"We just took what they gave us, and it was one-on-one,'' Jones said.
"Sometimes, they brought a safety toward me, and we took advantage on the times they didn't.''
Saban said the Vols' defense forced the issue from the onset of the game.
"Lots of man-to-man, lots of close coverage, lots of guys in the box,'' Saban said. "We knew we'd have to beat them throwing the ball, and that was the real key in the game.
"They were squatting on the routes so we had no choice but to try to throw it over their heads.''
Saban didn't seem as concerned about Tauren Poole breaking the Tide's 41-game streak of no opposing running back going over 100 yards - previously the longest active streak of its kind in the nation - as he was about Poole's 59-yard first-half TD scamper.
"We were in a stunt, and I don't know who missed their gap or what happened,'' Saban said. "He broke it inside and we had a (free) safety coming outside.''
Alabama strong safety Mark Barron wound up being the Tide's closest man in pursuit.
"I was expecting someone would force him back toward me,'' Barron said. "He just did a great job on that play.''
Poole finished with 117 yards on 14 carries, becoming the first back to crack the century mark on Alabama since New England Patriots' tailback and former Ole Miss runner Ben Jarvus Green-Ellis went for 131 yards during the 2007 season.
Poole was held to just 20 yards rushing in the second half, as the Tide adjusted to new twists and shifts the Vols added in their off-week.