McCarron and freshmen shine in Alabama's 44-13 victory over Tenn - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Freshmen Cooper, Yeldon shine in Alabama's 44-13 victory over Tennessee

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Amari Cooper, left, and AJ McCarron celebrate their first touchdown hookup. ( Amari Cooper, left, and AJ McCarron celebrate their first touchdown hookup. (
Sal Sunseri hugs his son, Vinnie, after the game. Sal Sunseri hugs his son, Vinnie, after the game.

Junior AJ McCarron and a couple of his blossoming freshmen helped lead No. 1 Alabama to a 44-13 rout of Tennessee on Saturday night in Knoxville.

McCarron, coming off a distracting week of injury rumors, threw for 316 yards and four touchdowns against the Volunteers, two of which were caught by true freshman wideout Amari Cooper.  In total, the two hooked up seven times and Cooper finished the night with seven catches for 162 yards to go along with his two scores.  And it could have been more if not for an illegal formation penalty.

In the third quarter, Cooper took a perfectly executed screen pass from McCarron 30 yards for a touchdown only to have the play called back for too many men in the backfield.

Cooper wasn't the only freshman to find the endzone twice as running back T.J. Yeldon had rushing scores of one yard and 43 yards in the game.  He totaled 129 yards on just 15 carries, giving him a 8.6 yards per carry average on the ground.

Alabama gained 533 yards of total offense on their way to winning their seventh game of the year, fourth in conference play.

In seven games this season, first-year offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier has the Crimson Tide offense averaging 439 yards per game and 41 points per contest -- numbers you can hang you hat on playing in the SEC.

When you couple that type of offensive production with a No. 1-ranked Nick Saban-Kirby Smart defense, you get what you witnessed on Saturday night at Neyland Stadium.  A methodical, well-rehearsed 31-point victory on the road against an SEC program.

Alabama's defense held the Volunteers' talented and strong-armed quarterback, Tyler Bray, to just 184 yards passing, two interceptions and a sub-.500 completion rate.  Bray was just 13-of-27 throwing the ball in the loss.

Under Derrick Dooley, Tennessee is 1-11 in their last 12 SEC games and they find themselves winless in the league after four games played.  With the loss, they fell to 3-4 on the year.

There weren't many struggles in the game for Saban's squad, except for the two misses on field goal attempts by junior kicker Cade Foster and a fourth quarter fumble by backup quarterback Blake Sims.  Foster missed on kicks from 44 and 45 yards away, makeable attempts for a guy that has hit two 51-yard kicks this season and one more from 52.

Alabama will now turn their attention to next week when they host the undefeated Mississippi State Bulldogs in a pivotal SEC Western Division game.  Dan Mullen and company will roll into Tuscaloosa with a perfect 7-0, 4-0 record, poised to play the spoiler in Saban's run at back-to-back BCS Titles.


Team Stat Comparison

1st Downs 23 11
Total Yards 539 282
Passing 306 203
Rushing 233 79
Penalties 4-23 2-15
3rd Down Conversions 6-12 2-13
4th Down Conversions 0-0 0-2
Turnovers 1 2
Possession 36:47 23:13

Passing Leaders

McCarron 17/22 306 13.9 4 0
Bray 13/27 184 6.8 0 2

Rushing Leaders

Yeldon 15 129 8.6 2 43
Lacy 17 79 4.6 0 14
Lane 15 55 3.7 0 12
Young 5 21 4.2 0 7

Receiving Leaders

Cooper 7 162 23.1 2 54
Bell 2 68 34.0 1 39
Hunter 4 70 17.5 0 44
Lane 5 48 9.6 0 26

Scoring Summary

TD 08:18 Amari Cooper 23 Yd Pass From AJ McCarron (Jeremy Shelley Kick) 7 0
FG 03:38 Michael Palardy 32 Yd 7 3
TD 11:23 T.J. Yeldon 1 Yd Run (Pat Failed) 13 3
TD 06:55 Michael Williams 1 Yd Pass From AJ McCarron (Jeremy Shelley Kick) 20 3
TD 05:32 A.J. Johnson 2 Yd Run (Michael Palardy Kick) 20 10
FG 01:24 Jeremy Shelley 34 Yd 23 10
TD 02:56 Amari Cooper 42 Yd Pass From AJ McCarron (Jeremy Shelley Kick) 30 10
TD 12:46 Kenny Bell 39 Yd Pass From AJ McCarron (Jeremy Shelley Kick) 37 10
TD 09:07 T.J. Yeldon 43 Yd Run (Jeremy Shelley Kick) 44 10
FG 03:57 Michael Palardy 21 Yd 44 13
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