TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -- AJ McCarron passed for 284 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score to lead No. 2 Alabama to a second-half surge and a 37-6 rout of Tennessee Saturday night.
The Crimson Tide (8-0, 5-0 Southeastern Conference) scored on its first five possessions after halftime to turn a tie game with the rival Volunteers (3-4, 0-4) into a blowout. That set up a two-week bonanza of hype ahead of Alabama's showdown with No. 1 LSU, which routed Auburn 45-19 in a game that ended shortly before this one kicked off.
Now, both SEC powers head into an open date. The "LSU" chants began with a couple of minutes left with most of the fans staying until the end.
Alabama had either first downs or touchdowns on its first 10 plays of the second half to bust open a 6-6 game.
The Tide outgained the Vols 280-41 in the second half and didn't allow a first down.
Tennessee Postgame Quotes
Derek Dooley Opening statement:
“It was a really great first half by our football team. I was really proud of them for that. They [Alabama] came out in the second half, and they put it on us the first drive. Then they hit a shot the second drive and at that point it was 20-6.
“We had a ton of ball [game] left and we lost our spunk. That was disappointing to see. We did what we said we weren’t going to do and that’s get affected if something bad happens in the game and we lost our fight.
“When you lose your fight against a great football team, what happened in the second half is what is going to happen. We couldn’t make it on third and inches, couldn’t make it on fourth and inches, then a sack, interception and a fumble. You’re playing a great team – that’s what happens. We learn from it, we move on. We’ve played two great football teams back-to-back and we’ve gone toe-to-toe with them for 30 minutes.
That doesn’t mean that’s good, but it means there’s signs of some good things. We’re just really a fragile, fragile football team right now. We got to harden up a little bit.”
On how fragile the Tennessee quarterback situation is:
“Well we can’t give up a sack. We can’t hold the ball. When you hold the ball and get sacked, and when you throw it over the middle late, it is going to get picked and that’s what happened. So we put [#14 Quarterback Justin] Worley in and it was unfortunate. We were wanting to put him in to throw it a little bit, but he fumbled the first play and then were on the minus -6 inch line. So he couldn’t really have an opportunity.”
On if Tennessee was the better team in the first half:
“It doesn’t matter what I think. It doesn’t really matter who is better, it only matters who is going to play better for three and a half hours.”
On things Alabama did differently against Tennessee in the second half:
“It wasn’t a lot different. I mean they did a couple of formational things and they took more shots down the field and they hit them. They pounded us that first drive. They really started throwing it more early on in the third quarter and we lost the contain on the quarterback one time. Then we got the guy – we got him sacked right there – and we jump up and don’t tackle him. We lose our man in coverage and we can’t make a play down the field. Even when you know that they’re going to take a shot, we get run by. They executed is what they did. They executed a lot better and we didn’t.”
#1 Michael Palardy, Kicker
On how confident he felt going into the game:
“I felt very confident. I needed a game like this to kind of get me back to where I’m supposed to be. To show everybody that’s who I am. The big kicks, punting, kickoffs, everything just went very well.”
On the fake punt:
“Well they called it on the sideline. All week we kind of schemed it up. The corner plays off a little bit and we only needed a couple yards. Anthony Anderson runs a two or three yards – stops – turns around right when I get the ball. I throw as fast as I can and get it out of there.”
#12 Matt Simms, Quarterback
On the second half of the game
“It’s unfortunate the way the second half unfolded. It’s just something we have to continue to learn from. We have to remember that the game’s not over after halftime.”
On how the team felt after it was down two scores
“Two scores is really nothing. It’s just another opportunity to go out there and play. The two scores – they’re not really a big deal – teams come back from that all the time.”
Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban
"Well I'm obviously very pleased and happy with the results and the way we responded in the second half. It was a little lackluster in the first half, which is a little bit concerning, but there was a concern going into the game, and something we tried to fight all week in terms of guys being focused on what's happening right now, and not being concerned about the future, and challenging themselves to play and having the proper respect for the team that we were playing. I think those guys did a fantastic job. Derek's done a fantastic job there, and they were certainly ready to play. They did a good job of kind of picking us a little bit in the first half, and their defense played a lot of eight man fronts, and we threw the ball in the second half because it was really difficult to run it, and we were able to run it a little better after we loosened them up a little bit. We made some good halftime adjustments, and I think the biggest thing is the players responded with a whole different, sort of energy level, passion, and enthusiasm in the second half, which made all the difference in the world. As we've talked about before, when we don't have that, we become very average, and when we have it, we can be pretty good. It's everybody's choice to do that and to respond that way and be responsible and be ready to play.
So, this is a big game for our fans. I'm very, very happy that we were able to come out in the second half and win this game for a lot of people that this game means a lot to. It certainly means a lot to me. It means a lot to us, and I know it means a lot to our players, and I know it means a lot to the University of Alabama and all the people here. We're just pleased and happy that we were able to get a win for them and make a lot of folks happy here in the state of Alabama, and all over where we have Alabama supporters. The crowd was great today, and they energized us in the second half, and that was really key for us."
#35 Nico Johnson, Linebacker
On the defensive performance tonight:
“We played well, but we still had a lot of mistakes and we didn’t execute well in the first half. But we came back out in the second half and showed some intensity and focus and we played better. So it just shows when we have intensity and focus we are a dangerous team, but we just have to come back and work hard the next two weeks.”
On the next two weeks and getting ready for LSU:
“This upcoming week we are just going to take it slow and just try to move into things, but when LSU week comes we are going to pick it back up and be ready to roll again.”
#30 Dont’a Hightower, Linebacker
On the defensive performance tonight:
“I feel like the first half we didn’t come out and play ball the way we wanted to. At halftime we came back and made some really good adjustments and played our style of football.”
On his interception and return:
“To be honest, coach Smart just went over the exact formation and the players we were going to play with, and it played out the exact same way we wanted it to. Nico did a real good job of getting his hands on it and defending the ball. He tipped it in the air and it fell right into my hands.”
#3 Trent Richardson, Running Back
On difference between the first half and the second half:
“In the first half, they were trying to stop the run early, and we just had to come back in the second half and punch them in the mouth. That’s one thing we established, we’ve got to move the ball, and they were trying to stop the ball. AJ (McCarron) did a good job managing the game. Marquis Maze made some good plays. Darius Hanks did an awesome job. The receivers were just on point and they just let everybody know that it’s not all about the running game. We had a full team out there.”
On AJ McCarron’s play tonight:
“AJ did a really good job. AJ’s always on point. He was upset that he threw a pick early, but we told him not to worry about it, and that we had his back. He came right back in and scored a touchdown. In the second half, that’s how we respond and we have to be relentless.”
#73 William Vlachos, Offensive Line
On the difference between the first half and the second half:
“Obviously we had a good message from coach Saban. Offensively, they’re not going to put everybody in the box. You’ve got to throw the ball. The whole defense was in the box basically. We came out there, and the first drive of the second half, we ran the ball once, went down and scored the first play of the next possession. It loosens them up a bit and we started running the ball again.”
On protecting AJ tonight:
“I think we did protect quite a lot. He did a great job. If they’ve got everybody in the box, we’ve just got to throw the ball. They put that on AJ’s shoulders and he did it. When you complete passes like that over their head, it loosens up the run game again, kills clock and sustains the drive. AJ did a great job.”