This is obviously pretty late, and there weren’t a whole lot of revelations that I noticed on film that weren’t evident Saturday, so we’ll keep this brief.
Butch Jones said last week that Tennessee would find it much harder to lock cornerback Cameron Sutton on to Amari Cooper than it was for the Vols to get Sutton on Ole Miss’s Laquon Treadwell. He was right. Not sure if there were things the Vols could’ve done schematically to change this or if it would’ve been worth it to alter the scheme to make sure Sutton was always on Cooper, but of Cooper’s nine receptions, I counted just one on which Sutton appeared to be defending Cooper. That was the 41-yard touchdown pass — Cooper’s second TD reception of the game — but it came because Sutton fell down on the coverage.
“I lined up with him a couple of times throughout the course of the game,” Sutton said Monday. “You know, like I said, their offense does a good job of moving him around throughout the slot with different formations, outside and inside. They work their offense around him and try to get him the ball and they’re really good at it.”
The Vols rarely covered Cooper in straight man-to-man, usually having a safety over top to help out. Alabama exploited that by finding Cooper just as he found the seam in the zone. On multiple occasions, Alabama’s Blake Sims hit Cooper with a pass just as a cornerback was passing him off to a safety or linebacker.
His 80-yard touchdown run, of course, wasn’t one of those occasions. The Vols were still getting adjusted after a late substitute brought Alabama wide receiver Chris Black on to the field. Cooper ran across the backfield behind the line of scrimmage, took the pass off a bootleg from Blake Sims and simply beat everyone down the field. There wasn’t much chance for anyone to cover him, and the Vols looked foolish in their attempts to tackle him.
Other notes from film.
— It’s impossible to quantify how much of the offensive line’s success was a product of having Joshua Dobbs behind them. However, it was obvious the line that played Saturday was the most effective one they’ve had all season. There were still missed blocks, but those appeared to be fewer and further between. Dobbs was able to escape pressure, but he didn’t see as much as Justin Worley had anyway. Redshirt freshman Brett Kendrick seemed especially effective in his return to the starting lineup.
— Dobbs had some misfires as Jones said. The throw behind North in the end zone was more egregious on tape than it was from the press box, and it would’ve taken an astounding play for North to flip his body and haul that one in. Still, Dobbs also had some gems, especially the post route to Pig Howard for a 28-yard pass on which he was hit as he threw. The touchdown pass to Josh Malone was also especially nifty because of the required timing.