Five quick hits from Alabama's 44-13 win over Tennessee.
1. A.J. McCarron and his bruised knee looked just fine in Alabama’s 44-13 win over rivaled Tennessee Saturday night. The calm and cool QB went 17 of 22 for a career-high 306 yards (his first time to ever breach 300 yards) and four touchdowns.
His previous career high was 284 yards, which came in last year’s game against the Vols.
“He’s just doing his job,” said tight end Michael Williams. “He stepped out of the role tonight that people say he’s a game manager. He took over and learned to lead us and it’s just all about hitting the right spots at the end of the day. You can get discombobulated, you can get frustrated or whatever, but if you stay on the same path, you saw what happened tonight, you can throw for 300 yards, no problem.”
2. McCarron will never admit who his favorite wide receiver is. When he’s asked which guy he has the best chemistry with, his response is always, “I trust all my receivers.” But true freshman Amari Cooper was electric in Neyland at night, catching seven passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns, including a 42-yarder in the third quarter that put Bama up 30-10. Tennessee simply did not have an answer for him.
“We think he’s an outstanding player,” head coach Nick Saban said. “He has learned to be very consistent in how he plays. He plays fast and hard.”
True freshman running back T.J. Yeldon had a big game, too, rushing 15 times for 129 yards and two scores. The two youngsters combined for 291 yards and four touchdowns on 22 touches.
3. This game took on a different meaning for safety Vinnie Sunseri and his dad, Sal, Alabama’s former outside linebackers coach who is now UT’s defensive coordinator. Earlier this week, both father and son were emotional talking about seeing each other on opposing sidelines for the first time ever.
Vinnie called the game a “professional performance.”
“My dad came up to me and said some stuff that was really touching,” Vinnie said. “That hit me deep. I am so proud of him and I love the guy.
After the game, emotions were clearly still running high as the two spoke separately with watery eyes. Sal was kind enough to take a moment and appease the media for a few questions and once he had had enough, said, “I’m going to let this one go,” Sal said. “But I’m gonna go see my son.”
The Sunseri had a lot of family members in attendance, including Vinnie’s mother Roxann and sister Ashlyn. All of whom could be seen giving each other hugs on the field after the game.
4. Alabama has scored 111 points off 20 turnovers this season. Tonight, both C.J. Mosley and Robert Lester’s momentum-swinging interceptions were turned into touchdowns on Alabama’s ensuing offensive possessions.
5. Despite what Saban called “probably our most complete game,” Alabama’s kicking game struggled. Cade Foster missed a 44- and 45-yard attempt and Jeremy Shelley missed an extra point.
Alabama beat Tennessee by 31 points, but over the next three weeks the Tide faces tough opponents in Mississippi State, LSU and Texas A&M—all of which could be nail-biters—and they can’t be missing crucial kicks.
After the game, before heading into the locker room, Saban ran over to the Alabama section at Neyland Stadium and held up a high-five, followed by the thumb, which represented the number six wins in a row over Tennessee. Needless to say, the fans went wild.
For more Alabama coverage, follow Laken Litman on Twitter!