Associated Press

Easy dozen: No. 1 Alabama rolls to 12th straight win over Tennessee

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The good news for Tennessee: the Vols scored more points on No. 1 Alabama than they have at any point in their 11-game losing streak to the Clemson Tide.

The bad: it wasn’t near enough.

Though backup quarterback Keller Chryst exploited worrisome vulnerabilities in a work-in-progress Alabama secondary, it was too little, too late as Tua Tagovailoa and company overwhelmed the Vols en route to a 58-21 romp in Knoxville.

Alabama opened up leads of 14-0 less than five minutes into the game and 28-0 a dozen minutes in, cruising to a 42-14 halftime lead. It was the fifth time in eight games Alabama (8-0, 5-0 SEC) has hit the 40-point barrier in the first half, and the first half Tennessee (3-4, 1-3 SEC) has allowed the same since a 62-37 loss to Florida on Sept. 16, 1995.

The 58 points are the most Alabama has ever scored in 100 games against Tennessee. The 37-point margin marks the ninth time (and third consecutive) Alabama has beaten Tennessee by at least 20 points during the ongoing 12-game streak.

In two-plus quarters, Tagovailoa furthered his Heisman campaign by hitting 19-of-29 passes for 306 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Chryst entered for an injured and ineffective Jarrett Guarantano (5-of-10 for 63 yards) and fired two second quarter touchdown passes, finishing 9-of-15 for 164 yards with no interceptions.

Alabama accepted the ball to open the game and, for the eighth time in eight tries, scored a touchdown on its opening possession. Tagovailoa guided the Crimson Tide 58 yards in nine plays, including a 10-yard connection to Jaylen Waddle on a 3rd-and-10 from the Tennessee 35 and an 11-yard scoring toss to Jerry Jeudy.

And then came the knockout punch.

On a 3rd-and-10 from the Tennessee 25, Alabama’s Xavier McKinney sacked Tennessee’s Jarrett Guarantano and forced a fumble, which was recovered by Christian Miller for the visitors at the Vols’ 3. Josh Jacobs punched it in for the score, putting the Tide up 14-0 at the 10:35 mark of the first quarter.

After the score, Alabama’s defense forced a three-and-out, and Tagovailoa hit Waddle for a 77-yard touchdown strike on the first snap of the ensuing possession.

After another Vols three-and-out, Alabama moved 93 yards in nine plays, gaining 46 yards on two completions to Jeudy and scoring on a 3-yard Damien Harris rush, pushing Alabama’s lead to 28-0 with 3:31 remaining in the first quarter.

Tennessee regrouped in the second quarter, forcing two straight three-and-outs (a first for Alabama this season), then moving 75 yards in five plays to get on the board. Guarantano hit Josh Palmer for a 30-yard gain but was forced to leave the game after taking a hit. Chryst entered and found Ty Chandler for consecutive gains of 26 and 10 yards, the latter putting Tennessee on the board at 28-7 with 7:21 to play in the first half.

Jeremy Pruitt called for an onside kick after the score, which Tennessee recovered… one yard before it was allowed to do so.

Alabama took over at the Tennessee 43 and capitalized with its fifth first half touchdown, a 2-yard Jacobs plunge that moved Alabama’s lead to 35-7 with 4:23 left in the first half.

But Chryst’s presence in the game continued to exploit a vulnerability in the Alabama secondary. Facing a 3rd-and-12 at his own 17, Chryst found Jauan Jennings for consecutive gains of 23 and 40 yards to move the ball to the Alabama 20. After an incompletion to Jennings, Chryst connected with Tyler Byrd for a 20-yard touchdown strike, pulling the Vols back within 21 with 2:18 left before the break.

Though Tennessee may have cracked the Alabama defense, the Tide’s offense remained unstoppable. Alabama needed 123 seconds to move 85 yards in nine plays, scoring on a 9-yard toss from Tagovailoa to Irv Smith, Jr.

Alabama opened the second half scoring by corralling Chryst in the end zone for a safety, then completed Tagovailoa’s day with a 41-yard scoring strike to Henry Ruggs III.

Jalen Hurts entered and contributed Tennessee’s third touchdown on a 27-yard pick-six to defensive lineman Kyle Phillips, but he immediately made up for the score by capping an 8-play, 70-yard drive with a 21-yard scoring jaunt.

Reports: Alabama DC interviews for, accepts job with Cleveland Browns

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The offensive side of Nick Saban‘s Alabama coaching staff has been ravaged by poaching over the past few weeks. As of Wednesday night, it appears the defensive side won’t go unscathed this offseason either.

According to Matt Zenitz of al.com, Crimson Tide defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi interviewed for a job with the NFL’s Cleveland Browns this week. Zenitz didn’t specify for what position Lupoi interviewed with the Browns, which officially filled its defensive coordinator position earlier this week.

However, a subsequent report not only identified the position for which Lupoi interviewed, but that the erstwhile Tide coordinator has accepted the job.

Lupoi, one of the best recruiters in the sport, has spent the past five seasons on Saban’s staff. After serving as a defensive analyst his first two years, he was the Tide’s outside linebackers coach in 2016 before taking over as coordinator for Jeremy Pruitt, who left to take the head job at rival Tennessee.

Prior to Alabama, Lupoi was the defensive line coach at Washington (2012-13) and Cal (2008-11).

The Browns recently named Freddie Kitchens as its latest head football coach. Kitchens, for those of you who don’t remember, was a three-year starter at quarterback for Alabama in the mid-nineties.

Saban, for those of you who don’t remember, was the defensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns from 1991-94 under Bill Belichick before taking the head job at Michigan State.

Mike Locksley reportedly turns to ex-ECU head coach Scottie Montgomery as Terps’ OC

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Mike Locksley is turning to a former head coach to become his first offensive coordinator at Maryland.

As first reported by InsideMDSports, the new Terps OC will be none other than former East Carolina head coach Scottie Montgomery. The move by Locksley comes a few days after fellow former Alabama assistant Josh Gattis reportedly spurned Maryland to take the same job at Michigan.

Montgomery’s track record as an assistant is certainly a bit better than what he did with the Pirates after going 9-26 overall in three seasons in charge of the program. While ECU’s offense did put up some impressive numbers at times (as well as produce players like Gardner Minshew II before he transferred to Washington State), Montgomery is probably best known for his work on the Duke staff under David Cutcliffe.

The 40-year-old started out as a wide receivers coach at his alma mater before eventually becoming OC of the Blue Devils, with a short stint in the NFL mixed in.

The good news for Locklsey and Montgomery is that they do have talent to work with in College Park even after missing out on grad transfer QB Jalen Hurts. The Terps are set to return both Tyrrell Pigrome and potentially Kasim Hill at quarterback as well as a slew of speedy backs and receivers.

Oklahoma will grant QB Austin Kendall waiver to play immediately at WVU

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It only took a few hours of getting thrown under the bus by fans and the national media, but cooler heads have prevailed in Norman.

Not long after it surfaced that graduate transfer Austin Kendall was being blocked by Oklahoma from being immediately eligible at West Virginia in 2019, USA Today reports that the Sooners have relented and the quarterback will indeed be able to play right away with the Mountaineers.

Kendall arrived at OU as part of the class of 2016 and saw limited playing time behind back-to-back Heisman Trophy winners at his position in Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield. While it’s possible he could have stuck around to be the starter for the team in 2019, former Alabama starter Jalen Hurts announcing he was transferring in as a graduate transfer earlier on Wednesday all but put an end to that line of thought.

The reversal from Lincoln Riley and Oklahoma’s athletic department shows once again that schools have little to gain by even threatening to block a player from transferring. At some point a college football program will learn that it invites nothing but bad press in the short term over somebody who is leaving town anyway. At least everybody came to that same conclusion this time around before Kendall and his family had to call up a lawyer or two to reach the same end point.

Oh and by the way, Kendall will be back in Norman with the Mountaineers on October 19 during the upcoming season for what figures to be a Big 12 game with more than the usual on-field storylines coming in.

Iowa State not playing spring game in 2019 due to weather, construction concerns

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The calendar says January and the national title game was just last week but it’s never too early to start thinking about spring football around the college landscape.

The folks at Iowa State certainly are.

In a release from the school issued on Wednesday, the Cyclones confirmed that they would not be playing a spring game in 2019 and will now go two years between any potential showcases to cap off their prescribed 15 practices.

“As a result of the uncertain weather conditions we face each spring in Iowa, plus the site preparation work that will begin this Spring for the new Sports Performance Center project, Coach Campbell and I have decided to not schedule a spring football game,” Iowa State Athletics Director Jamie Pollard said in a statement.  “Similar to last year, Coach Campbell and his staff can use that day to conduct a 15th spring practice which they feel is more beneficial for the overall development of the student-athletes and the football program.”

Though there are indeed plenty of reasons why a program might join the growing trend of skipping out on playing a spring game, it’s certainly disappointing for many ISU fans to go two years without being able to see their team in action and what new faces might end up contributing in the fall. Weather concerns are nothing new in Ames though, as an actual non-conference game in 2018 was cancelled and replaced with an FCS foe in December, to say nothing of last year’s spring game getting called off due to the elements.