Dominant Decade: Hurts leads run-heavy Alabama offense to victory over Tennessee

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Tyler Waldrep

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Jalen Hurts’ own mistakes didn’t seem fast enough to catch up with the Alabama quarterback, and on Saturday, neither were the Tennessee defenders.

Hurts’ first touchdown of the game came early in the second quarter when he ran untouched for a score from 45 yards out. It had only taken six plays for the freshman to make up for his 
prior mishap.

On the previous drive, Tennessee’s Derek Barnett knocked the ball out of Hurts’ hands. Tennessee’s recovery on Alabama’s 11-yard line set the Volunteers up for their first score.

“Jalen, he’s a guy that doesn’t let anything get to him,” Alabama linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton said. “So I mean that’s what really makes Jalen such a good quarterback because he’s going to play the next play like coach [Nick] Saban tells us to do.”

Hurts went on to finish with 12 carries for 132 rushing yards and a career-high three rushing touchdowns in Alabama’s 49-10 victory (the Crimson Tide’s 10th consecutive win in the series), and at times, it seemed like Tennessee’s defense had no answer for Hurts’ speed.

Alabama defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson knows what that feels like. He and his fellow defenders get frustrated trying to contain the young 
quarterback in practice.

“Thursday [in] practice we did a two-minute drill and he had like a 40-yard run out of nowhere on like third-and-long,” Tomlinson said. “Sometimes he looks like he’s a junior [or a] senior 
out there.”

Hurts also threw an interception when his throw-away pass failed to get high enough to avoid being tipped up and intercepted by Tennessee’s Shy Tuttles and Derek Barnett, respectively.

When Hurts walked into the locker room at the half, he was 9-of-17 for 64 passing yards.

Saban said he got on his quarterback’s case a few times in the first half. During the break, he asked the freshman if he felt the verbal barrage was deserved. Hurts said it was, and that’s one of the reasons the freshman is having the success that he is this season.

“He’s getting better every week,” Saban said. “Obviously his ability to run is something that gives defenses a lot of problems. If we can continue to improve in the passing game because of the level of skill guys that we have, I think that will be something that’ll make a 
big impact.”

The quarterback wasn’t the only player wearing crimson to have success carrying the ball. As a team, Alabama rushed for 438 yards and five scores on only 49 attempts. Running back Bo Scarbrough passed the century mark in the first start of his career with only 
five carries.

Most of Scarbrough’s yards came on an 85-yard score in the second half, but that was enough to give Alabama two 100-yard rushers for the eighth time in program history and the first time since the Crimson Tide did so against West Virginia in 2014.

“When we’re having that much success we just want to keep running the ball, running the ball,” offensive lineman Ross Pierschbacher said. “I think we did a good job of that in the second half of just keep pounding and I mean it just makes it fun for us.”

Running back Damien Harris finished the game with the most carries (14 for 94 yards), but he did not find the end zone for the Crimson Tide. Wide receiver ArDarius Stewart, however, did find the end zone when he took his only carry of the game (a reverse from fellow 
receiver Calvin Ridley) 29 yards.

When Alabama lit up cigars in the locker room after the game, the team had a lot to celebrate. The Crimson Tide moved the ball 591 total yards, which was good enough to be the 16th-most yards in program history and good enough to surpass the previous record set in the Third Saturday in 
October rivalry.

“The offense was clicking on all 
cylinders for the most part today,” Harris said. “We still had some lapses we still had some bad plays, but for the most part we had a good day.”