Is Hart Listening to Ford?

Alabama 44  Tennessee 13
20 October 2012 | Neyland Stadium | ATT: 102,455
Recap | Boxscore | Play-by-Play | Drive Chart | Photos | Video  

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Alabama’s resounding victory over Tennessee Saturday showed why the SEC will likely be playing for yet another national championship.

Tennessee’s depressing performance showed that the decisions made in the coming weeks by Dave Hart and his advisors/financiers will determine when the next sellout of Neyland Stadium will be.

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The early part of the 2012 season was an exhibition of the dominance of the Crimson Tide defense. Saturday’s game against the Vols put the country on notice that they have an offense to be reckoned with.

Tide QB A.J. McCarron decimated the Tennessee secondary by throwing for over 300 yards for the first time in his career. Alabama QBs throwing over 300 yards are not the norm. The Tide normally dominates opponents with their rushing game. No worries — Alabama running backs ran for 233 yards, led by T.J. Yeldon’s 129 yards and two TDs on only 15 carries.

Normal, and then some.

The Tide’s first half was fueled by excellent field position made possible by a 32 yard punt return by Cyrus Jones (followed by a TD), an interception of a Tyler Bray pass by C. J. Mosley at the Vols’ 32 yard line (followed by another TD), and a 23-yard punt return by Jones (followed by a TD).

Football basics: special teams and turnovers.

Alabama’s second half featured four big plays (>20 yards): A 35 yard pass from McCarron to Kevin Norwood, a 42-yard TD pass from McCarron to Amari Cooper, a 39-yard TD pass from McCarron to Kenny Bell, and a 43-yard TD run by T.J. Yeldon.

The big play killing Tennessee’s season continued like a viral infection that can’t be treated with any available prescription.

***

And now for the Vols…

The Good

Defensive Front: For much of the evening, the big guys up front were able to go toe to toe with Bama’s stout offensive front. For much of the game, they were the only part of the defense doing anything positive, and actually were carrying the entirety of the pride of the orange jersey as the offense looked anemic.

Michael Palardy: Five punts for a 48.2 yard average. Punts of 44, 49, 50, 56, and 42 yards. Two field goals from two attempts, and 1-for-1 for extra point attempts. The young Floridian appears to have finally reached the level everybody expected when he was recruited.

The Offensive Line and the Running Game: Damn good considering the opponent and the fact that Tennessee’s top running back did not play due to injury.

Cordarrelle Patterson: Four kickoff returns for 111 yards — including one for 45 yards. He is the most exciting player on the field whenever he touches the ball. And that leads us to The Bad.

The Bad

Touches: Patterson got three touches on plays from scrimmage. THREE. One of the most effervescent players in the SEC, if not the nation, got THREE TOUCHES ON PLAYS FROM SCRIMMAGE. In the first half, Vol wide receivers had only one catch. The other catches were by tailbacks, the fullback, and the tight end.

Drops: Justin Hunter’s dropped pass near the end of the first half was a momentum killer.

Turnovers: Two interceptions thrown by Tyler Bray keep the turnover margin going in the wrong direction for the season. In four SEC games this season so far, Bray as thrown more interceptions (8) than touchdowns (6).

The Ugly

Points Allowed: 37 points to Florida, 51 to Georgia, 41 to Mississippi State, and 44 to Alabama. This is not Tennessee Football you say? It is now. In fact, this is the third consecutive game that Tennessee has lost to Alabama by 31 points.

The Defensive Secondary: No improvement here. Instead, it is getting worse. In the second half after a big Bama gain down the left sideline, former Vol great Leonard Little sent this tweet:

What is the corner doing??? Smh.

Let’s Wave the White Flag and Kick a Field Goal: Fourth and Goal at the Bama 3 yard line with 4 minutes left in the game, down 44-10. Game over. WHY WOULD YOU NOT TAKE A SHOT FOR A TOUCHDOWN???????

The Beatings Go On:Tennessee has been outscored by Bama 204-65 in the last six games of this great rivalry.

***

The issues that we all witnessed in the late part of the Florida game, parts of the Akron game, and much of the Georgia and Mississippi State games continued Saturday night. And they all raise the key question: Players? Or, coaches?

They go hand in hand.

Based on the pulse of the Vol Nation, the masses have had enough of the coaching staff. At this point, it doesn’t matter that this season’s 4 losses are to teams with a combined 27-1 record, with two of those teams ranked one and two in the BCS standings. It doesn’t matter because people have just simply had enough, regardless of what William Shakespeare once wrote…

Expectation is the root of all heartache.

Although the lack of fan support is not to be dismissed, no one knows what Dave Hart is thinking or doing, even though as Wes Rucker tweeted Sunday morning,

We’ve officially reached that seemingly annual point of Tennessee’s football season where everyone has sources and rumors.

As we head towards Saturday’s game in Columbia, one can’t help but be aware of the fact that the South Carolina game was the final straw for both the Majors and the Fulmer regimes in 1992 and 2008.

And perhaps Hart & Company will choose to follow a different bit of Shakespeare’s advice as recited in Ford’s soliloquy in The Merry Wives of Windsor

Better three hours too soon than a minute too late.

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