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Position grades: Tennessee vs No. 1 Alabama | Football

Here are some position grades from the Vols’ loss:


During the last few games, sophomore quarterback Jarrett Guarantano has been the only quarterback to grade on Tennessee’s roster.

On Saturday, Guarantano was knocked out of the game in the second quarter after taking a hit from Alabama’s Mack Wilson. During his shortened playing time, Guarantano was 5-for-10 with 63 yards.

He was also sacked three times and hurried on almost every play, so it’s tough to bash his performance. Redshirt senior Keller Chryst relieved Guarantano in the second quarter.

Chryst completed 9-of-15 passes for 164 yards and two touchdowns against one of the nation’s stingiest defenses. For that, he deserves some credit, even if some of the throws were against the Crimson Tide’s second-string.

Grade: B

Running Backs

As was the case against Auburn last week, Tennessee’s running backs struggled to make anything happen on Saturday.

Tim Jordan led the Vols with 50 yards on 14 carries, including an 11-yard run where he broke multiple tackles. Sophomore Ty Chandler added 21 yards, but it took him nine touches to get there.

Chandler did have three catches for 39 yards out of the backfield.

After accounting for negative yardage, Tennessee ran the ball 30 times for just 31 yards. Even with a weak offensive line going up against a stout defensive front, the Vols have to be better in the run game.

Grade: C-

Wide Receiver/Tight End

Jauan Jennings continues to show why he is a fan favorite. Against Alabama, Jennings had six catches for 102 yards.

Josh Palmer had one grab for 30 yards, Brandon Johnson added one for 27 yards and Tyler Byrd had a 20-yard touchdown reception. Tennessee’s wide receivers did not drop many passes on Saturday, but the Crimson Tide’s pass rush limited their opportunities.

Grade: B+

Offensive Line

Jeremy Pruitt talked about it after the game: the Tennessee offensive line was outclassed against Alabama.

The Crimson Tide’s defensive line was in the Vols’ backfield the entire game, disrupting everything Tennessee tried to do on offense. It was certainly not the first time that has happened for Tennessee this season.

If the Vols are going to win the rest of their games, as senior defensive lineman Kyle Phillips said he believes they can do, the offensive line play will have to see major improvement.

Grade: F

Defensive Line

When a team gives up 58 points, the most in the history of the rivalry, it is tough to give any defensive position group a passing grade.

The defensive line was led by Emmit Gooden, who had five tackles. Deandre Johnson, Shy Tuttle and Kyle Phillips each had just two tackles.

Alabama is known for their passing attack, but the Crimson Tide also averaged 5.2 yards per carry on Saturday. Tennessee’s defensive line did not record a sack in the contest.

The one bright spot was a pick-six for Phillips, who broke multiple tackles on the way to the end zone.

Grade: D-


Quart’e Sapp headlined this group with eight tackles, and Daniel Bituli added eight of his own.

Overall, the linebackers were able to stop a few runs that went through the defensive line, but they could not create much of a disturbance in the passing game. The linebackers got caught up in blocks and did not create the impact that Tennessee needed them to make.

Grade: D


Alabama has the No. 1 passing attack in college football and they showcased it on Saturday.

Behind their star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, the Crimson Tide passed for over 300 yards and added four touchdowns, despite attempting fewer than 35 passes. It was a bad matchup for a young Tennessee secondary, and there is not much to note on the positivity side of things.

Alabama essentially stopped throwing the ball after the first half.

Grade: F

Special Teams

The special teams unit has been one of Tennessee’s strengths so far this season.

On Saturday, the Crimson Tide was able to force this unit into several bad decisions. Ty Chandler made an illegal fair catch to open the second half, setting Tennessee’s offense back even more.

Brent Cimaglia, who has been solid in the kicking game all season, missed a field goal against Alabama. Punter Joe Doyle was solid as usual, outside of one shanked punt.

Grade: D


It is hard to put a ton of stock in coaching when a team is simply outmatched by a wide margin.

However, Pruitt and his staff were unable to do much of anything against Nick Saban’s team. Chandler’s mistake to open the second half is a bad look for a team that had just re-hashed things in the locker room.

Pruitt’s halftime message about recruiting players who will not let that kind of game happen in the future was an interesting touch from the Vols’ first-year head coach.

Grade: D-

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