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RB Josh Jacobs, UA defense establish physical tone versus Tennessee

Marvin Gentry - USA TODAY Sports

Aside from a few dropped passes, Tua Tagovailoa did not have many signs of discomfort in the first half against Tennessee. While the sophomore moved to fourth all-time with 24 touchdown passes in a single-season, junior running back Josh Jacobs was responsible for establishing a physical tone. Alabama’s swiss army knife led the team in rushing with 64 yards and two scores. 

Jacobs started today’s matchup against Tennessee with a 42-yard kickoff return, which set up the Crimson Tide for a 58-yard drive (nine plays) that ended on a 11-yard touchdown pass from Tagovailoa to Jerry Jeudy. His toughness sparked the offensive line to protect Tagovailoa, and even rubbed off on Alabama’s defense.

With the exception of two touchdowns, the Tide has surrendered just 169 yards offensively. A vicious hit from Mack Wilson knocked Volunteers’ signal-caller Jarrett Guarantano out of the game. Graduate transfer Keller Chryst has provided some life for Tennessee fans – 119 passing yards, two scores – however, Alabama has forced three sacks, eight tackles for loss and two fumbles.  

Xavier McKinney leads the group with five tackles, including one sack and 1.5 tackles for loss with a forced fumble.

The quartet of Dylan Moses, Isaiah Buggs, LaBryan Ray and Quinnen Williams have three tackles apiece. Ray, a sophomore, got the starting nod at defensive end over Raekwon Davis. He was credited with one of eight tackles for loss. 

Despite being up 42-14, consistency needs to be shown from Alabama’s receivers.  

Freshman Jaylen Waddle leads the group with 109 yards receiving on three catches, but Tagovailoa’s completion percentage suffered some in the second quarter prior to the two-minute drill that ended on a touchdown pass to Irv Smith, Jr. Whether we see the Heisman frontrunner in the second half remains to be seen, but Tide fans won’t have a problem seeing more Josh Jacobs.

Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

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