It wasn't pretty, but it was sure ugly at times.
On Saturday evening, the Alabama Crimson Tide ran over and through a determined but young Tennessee Volunteer squad, 41 to 10 in front of 102,000-plus rabid UT fans.
It was a tale of two halves, really.
Oh, it looked a bit worrisome early, as the Vols struck on a long touchdown run, but superior experience and power finally took its toll in what became a blowout 'Bama win in the second half.
In securing the victory, the Tide exposed at least five questions and concerns as the team faces three crucial games (LSU, Mississippi State, Auburn) between now and the SEC Championship game in Atlanta in early December.
The purpose of this slideshow is to examine some of these as the Tide has little room for error going forward.
Greg saw orange while his back saw green.
Don't get us wrong; we love G-Mac. Love him. A serious man-crush.
But Greg sometimes holds the ball too long. Sometimes he throws to the wrong receiver. Sometimes, it seems that his air of invincibility has created tunnel vision as he 'telegraphs' his throws.
True, it helps tremendously when Maze and Julio are on the receiving ends of his passes.
But Greg saw more orange jerseys and the back of his white shirt was a Neyland green by the time he hit the bench at the end of three quarters. And some of that was not from missed assignments.
With so (potentially-see next slide) potent a running game, perhaps more play action would give Greg the time and space he needs to a.) find the open receiver, and b.) in turn, open up the running game.
So a combination of making better decisions and a better mixing of play action might be more productive for the senior quarterback.
Perhaps the rest in the fourth quarter (and the promise shown by McCarron) indicates that the coaches realize this as well.
The RBs finally had an ok game, but we expect more of the same.
You've got to be kidding me.
How can a porous defense like Tennessee's shut down the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and the second best running back in the conference for a half? True, Ingram had some possible injury issues in the second quarter, but then he came back and had a great run.
But still; how?
One reason is that we've been trying to run wide when we can gash teams up inside. That's where Trent's long TD came from, didn't it?
Remember, it was our offensive line that was part of the good news coming back this year.
Besides, UT's defensive line is so small—forty pounds per man smaller than we are. How could the 'Bama o-line not dominate them the entire game?
And you can't tell me that a defense, almost any defense, could stop our running backs from getting 3.5 yards per carry.
If one goes back to the South Carolina game (four quarters) and the Ole Miss game (another four), plus the two in the first half, it's worrisome.
Run the ball. Ram it down the throats of LSU, Mississippi State and especially that of Auburn.
Running the ball is sapping to the other team and makes offensive linemen run downhill.
Run the ball.
First round? Heck, first pick!
Everybody knows that Julio Jones is a beast. A man among men. A giant.
We saw against UT what can happen when the game plan gets him the ball early and often.
Even when covered, he makes the other receivers better and, usually, open.
G-Mac hit him long, twice. Immediately after the second time, Ingram rushed for 15 yards.
Boom. Two back to back hits to the mouth of the UT defense. The pass opens up the run, and vice-versa.
And within 90 seconds of the second half, Jones had 164 yards receiving, and went on to a career day in receptions (12) and yardage (221).
By the way, the 221 is a new school record for a single game.
Why have we not done this before?
Hopefully we'll see this only in pregame warmups soon.
When Jeremy Shelley missed a chip shot field goal in the second quarter, it took some wind out of the 'Bama sails.
The offense had marched down the field and ended up with nothing to show for it. It was deflating for the Tide and inflating for the Vols.
And, in the end, while 'Bama didn't need those three points, it might have done so.
Shelley is 7-for-10 on the year. Arguably, responsibility for one of those misses lies on the snapper/holder.
Meanwhile, Cade Foster is 6-of-7; his makes are all from beyond the 40. His lone miss is from 44.
While we're at it, how can the best program in the nation not recruit a consistent kicker?
According to data from STATS LLC, college kickers are hitting about 72 percent of their field goal tries. That means Alabama has, at best, a below average kicking game.
That's not good enough.
Maybe Shelley is not the future.
Maybe Cade Foster is.
Which defense will play against Auburn?
Besides the long run given up for a touchdown early in the first half against Tennessee, Alabama's defense played well. They produced several three and outs, and they had several chances for interceptions. That's the Dr. Jekyll part of the Tide defense.
But then, right before half, they gave up a sustained drive that led to UT cutting the lead to three with a field goal. In that drive, it wasn't the passing game that really hurt 'Bama. It was the fact that the defense gave up long runs to the Vols' Tauren Poole
That wasn't the last time the Tide D looked suspect.
This game also saw the streak of sub-100 yard rushers disappear, almost in the first half alone (Poole had 97 yards at halftime).
So, between flashes of brilliance lie these dark areas of subpar performance, the disturbingly ugly Mr. Hyde side.
It will only take a few mistakes on defense to allow Cam Newton to score a few times.
Let's hope Dr. Jekyll shows up against Auburn (and LSU and MSU as well) and not Mr. Hyde.