“The Third Saturday in October” has favored the Crimson Tide for the last eight years, but there are former players who remember when things were different. Before Alabama’s current streak began the Crimson Tide lost 10 of the last 12 games against the Volunteers.
Former Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy said beating Tennessee for the first time in his collegiate career in 2007 was a special moment because Alabama had struggled against rivals at the time.
“Just the elation, how hard we worked for it, and just how overcome we were because beating a rival for the first time [was special],” McElroy said.
He would have to wait one more year to finally get a victory over in-state rival Auburn to end the Tiger’s six year winning streak. In the last eight years Tennessee has rarely threatened Alabama with the lone exception coming in 2009 when Alabama needed to block a late field goal late.
“I remember getting into the red zone and not being able to push it in,” McElroy said. “I remember not even really watching that [the block] to tell you the truth.”
He might not have watched every play back then, but McElroy finds himself watching a lot of football now as an analyst for the SEC Network. He said he thinks Tennessee coach Butch Jones has things going in the right direction.
“It’s going to get better, it’s going to be back in the forefront I think in the very near future because of what Butch Jones has been doing in Knoxville,” he said.
Last week McElroy was in College Station, Texas when Alabama defeated the No. 9 Aggies. He said quarterback Jake Coker impressed him.
“I felt like last week Jake Coker won the team, I really do, and you could kind of notice it with him running on the sideline and lowering his shoulder,” McElroy said. “[Playing that way] makes me a little hesitant, but I did see the response on the sideline by his teammates and I think that, that cannot go unnoticed.”
On the SEC Nation set the quarterback ran into a familiar face. Former Alabama offensive lineman Barrett Jones said it was great to see his former quarterback.
“It was great seeing him,” Barrett Jones said. “I just told him how good of a job he’s been doing and how fun it’s been watching him.”
Both McElroy and Jones said they are looking forward to seeing a Tuscaloosa game day from the other side. As a player they missed out on things Alabama fans might take for granted.
“It’s fun, it’s weird seeing the quad, obviously we never got to see it from this vantage point but it’s fun being back,” Jones said. “My whole family’s here so we’ll be having a good time.”
Jones’s experiences at Alabama give him a unique perspective when he watches the games with his family.
“I will always pay the most attention to them [the offensive line] just because that’s the position I’m most familiar with and that’s the position I am biased to thinking is the most important.”
He said he will point out plays the offensive line makes to his family. Sometimes those are good plays, and sometimes those are missed assignments.
Jones said current Alabama center Ryan Kelly is vital to Alabama’s offense, but he said the experience that back up J.C. Hassenauer gained this week in practice will help him out immensely if the Crimson Tide needs him to play.
“I think they’ve [Alabama] been playing well. I think they have a chance to be a really really good football team,” Jones said. “Time will tell their record is obviously unfinished so far.”
McElroy said this is a special stop for him to be back in Tuscaloosa. This area still means a lot to him even though he currently lives in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“This is home, this is a place that means an awful lot to me,” McElroy said. I’m very grateful to have played here and just so thrilled to have the opportunity to come back and see all the special people that make this place great.”
Source:: The Crimson White Sports