Some call him unemotional and robotic.

With his systematic, all-work, no-play brand of football, others say he's pathological and downright scary.

But no matter what negative label is pinned to Alabama head coach Nick Saban, there is consensus about the on-field product he's created during his Alabama tenure.

It's nearly flawless.

"There are no weaknesses," UT head coach Butch Jones said. "They have depth everywhere across the board, from special teams to offense to defense. They are very physical. They play with great effort. They are technically sound."

With three national championships in four years and expectations for success nearly brushing against the heavens, many felt Saban's seventh year at Alabama wouldn't produce as many dominating performances that have seemingly become second nature to players donning the illustrious, cursive "A."


Through seven contests, the Crimson Tide have limited five straight opponents to single digits, amassed more than 400 yards of offense in all but two games and have trailed for a mere 13 minutes, none of which have come in the second half.

"(The production) is very consistent with all the other championship teams," UT defensive backs coach Willie Martinez said. "From a standpoint of how businesslike they are, fundamentally sound, how they execute, and they have a lot of playmakers."

A cornerstone of Saban's Alabama career, the Crimson Tide defense has finished top-five nationwide in total defense for five consecutive seasons and is well on its way to adding season No. 6. Alabama currently ranks fifth in that category, allowing just 275 yards per game.

"They play with an attitude, and they play with great fundamentals," UT center James Stone said. "They don't make many mistakes at all. They're very physical football, and that allows them to play very sound defense.

"If you make mistakes, they're going to exploit them."

Through the likes of All-American linebacker and team top-tackler (58) C.J. Mosely as well as Tide sack leader (4) A'Shawn Robinson, the Crimson Tide have kept explosive plays and scoring opportunities to a minimum, limiting opponents to just 100 first downs and 11 red zone attempts, statistics that rank fourth and tied for first in the country, respectively.

An integral part of Alabama's suffocating defense, though, won't be in action Saturday versus Tennessee as junior safety Vinnie Sunseri was lost for the year last week against Arkansas. The son of former Volunteer defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri injured his left knee on kickoff duties and had a season-ending operation on Tuesday.

"We're all praying for him," said sophomore Landon Collins, a former five star recruit and Sunseri's replacement at strong safety. "We're looking for him to come back soon."

Offensively, the Tide's success begins and ends with the play of veteran quarterback A.J. McCarron, who is 32-2 as a starter in his Alabama career. The Mobile, Ala., native has evolved from a game-manager relying heavily on other playmakers into a decisive offensive weapon who requires much preparation from opposing defenses.

Through seven games, the senior signal caller is near the top of many SEC statistical categories, ranking second in completion percentage, third in passing efficiency and tied for fourth in touchdowns passes.

"(McCarron) has great poise in the pocket, knows where to go with the football, doesn't panic, very patient, knows how to manage the game," UT defensive coordinator John Jancek said. "Obviously he is a guy who has won a lot of football games, national championships. He is very poised back there. It looks like he has a really good pulse of the offense, leading their offense."

"I have a lot of respect for him. He's a great player."

An offensive mainstay throughout McCarron's tenure has been a bruising, hard-nosed running back, and this season is no different. In his first year with full control over the Alabama backfield, sophomore T.J. Yeldon has carried the momentum from a productive 1,100-yard freshman campaign into 2013, compiling 657 rushing yards on 100 attempts with seven touchdowns. In addition, backfield mate Kenyan Drake has made his presence known as well, co-leading the conference in yards per carry at 8.2.

"They are similar in terms of stature wise and they play with a high level of physicality," Jones said. "They both have great speed. I think the one thing they can say about their program is ... it is based on competition. It is a competitive environment every day when you walk in there.

"I see a great football team that are extremely well-coached and well-disciplined."