The unlikely story of how the 2007 Alabama-Tennessee recreation began Tide streak

Keyboard keynotes …

One of the best recreation John Parker Wilson ever performed for Alabama, statistically talking, anyway, got here forth from the worst of circumstances.

On the Third Saturday in October, circumstances might be that method.

Wilson, who now does radio coloration commentary for the Crimson Tide Sports activities Community, cannot exactly recall when the 2007 Alabama soccer group discovered that 5 gamers would not be out there towards Tennessee because of a suspension. However the former UA quarterback does bear in mind the discover was quick sufficient that the follow week had just about been put to mattress, so it wasn’t as if the group had time to arrange for the absences. And what was worse, two of the 5 who sat out for an NCAA violation involving impermissible receipt of textbooks — Antoine Caldwell and Marlon Davis — got here from the beginning offensive line that protected him.

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“It was like ‘OK, right here we go,'” Wilson stated. “You simply deal with them like they’re injured, subsequent man up, go play ball and simply let it rip.”

Let it rip, he did.

Wilson threw for a career-high 363 yards within the 41-17 win that started the Crimson Tide’s present 15-game win streak within the collection, and it was certainly one of two video games in his profession by which he threw for 3 or extra touchdowns with out an interception.

“A kind of days the place you are simply within the zone,” he stated.

Objectively, Alabama was not the higher group over the complete season. It completed 7-6, whereas UT gained 10 video games and took the SEC East division. But it surely was a lot better than UT on the day that mattered, opening the sport with a profitable onside kick and outplaying the Volunteers from begin to end. It was the signature win of the season, and maybe the primary clear signal that this system’s fortunes as an entire have been being turned by then-new coach Nick Saban.

“I feel all people was purchased in, however that recreation gave us such a payoff for that,” Wilson stated.

A 12 months later, UA drummed Tennessee 29-9 in Neyland Stadium, a loss that signaled the end-of-season exit of coach Phil Fulmer and helped vault Alabama into the primary of 9 SEC Championship Recreation appearances below Saban.

Personnel puzzle

The Alabama protection’s “cheetah package deal“, that includes the pass-rushing trio of Will Anderson, Dallas Turner and Chris Braswell, has drawn a number of consideration this week for its fixed harassment of Texas A&M QB Haynes King final Saturday. It is a package deal designated primarily for third-down, passing conditions, however coach Nick Saban stated the grouping practices a bit every week on run-stopping as nicely. That is extra related towards a Tennessee offense that prefers the hurry-up model to forestall substitutions.

“Each group sort of has a breakpoint on after they’re not working the ball on third down very a lot. And we are able to nonetheless cease the run with stunts. However there’s completely different sorts of runs on third down, too, that it’s a must to cease,” Saban stated. “We work just a little every week on these guys being within the recreation and with the ability to cease the run, however that is a specialty package deal for passing conditions, and tougher to play if there is a menace of a run. (If) now we have a breakpoint, we’ll put them within the recreation.”

Tillman watch

Alabama QB Bryce Younger is not the one key offensive participant whose standing is unsure for the Alabama-Tennessee recreation Saturday (2:30 p.m. CT, CBS). The Volunteers’ most gifted receiver, Cedric Tillman, is hopeful to play after present process a “tightrope” surgical procedure for a excessive ankle sprain final month; he isn’t performed since Sept. 17. Former Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa had the process executed in 2019. Tillman’s availability would make a giant distinction for UT, though the Vols offense — in scoring 38 and 40 towards Florida and LSU, respectively — has been explosive sufficient with out him.

Across the SEC

Alabama-Tennessee will present a pleasant measuring stick for divisional energy in every SEC, however on a smaller scale, Mississippi State’s recreation at Kentucky will do the identical. UK QB Will Levis will possible return from damage, no less than for those who take his phrase for it, and provides the Wildcats (4-2) a pleasant probability to rebound towards one of the best group Mike Leach has had at Mississippi State (5-1). … Now that Georgia and Tennessee have no less than a two-game lead over the remainder of the SEC East, it’ll take collapse from each for anybody else within the division to achieve the SEC title recreation. It is early, however no one else within the East is taking part in on their stage. … SEC Unfold Decide of the Week: Tennessee +7.5. Season: 5-1.

Attain Chase Goodbread at [email protected] Comply with on Twitter @chasegoodbread

Tuscaloosa Information sport columnist Chase Goodbread.

This text initially appeared on The Tuscaloosa Information: How Alabama soccer’s unlikely 2007 win began a streak