The Scoop: The Alabama Crimson Tide opened up SEC play with a 38-14 pounding of the Arkansas Razorbacks in Tuscaloosa. Alabama moves to 4-0 on the season, and the Crimson Tide has now won 20 consecutive SEC openers and is 5-0 against Arkansas under Nick Saban.
Turning Point: Following a goal line stand by the Razorbacks where they stopped Alabama three straight times from the one yard line, forcing a 20-yard Jeremy Shelley field goal to the Tide up 10-7, Arkansas had the ball with momentum with just over 5-minutes to go in the half. Then, Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson made his first mistake of the afternoon, and DeQuan Menzie tipped the ball to himself, and returned an interception 25 yards into the endzone to give Alabama 17-7 lead that they carried into the locker room.
Stat of the Game:Arkansas’ offense was averaging over 519 yards per game coming into this matchup with Alabama, but the Crimson Tide defense held the high powered Razorback offense in check, holding them to just 226 yards of total offense.
Offensive Player of the Game: Trent Richardson carried the ball 17 times for 126 yards — his third straight 100+ yard rushing game — while also catching three passes for 85 yards, including a 61-yard touchdown on a screen pass from McCarron.
Defensive Player of the Game: Dre Kirkpatrick was everywhere for the Crimson Tide in this game, with excellent tackles and solid coverage throughout the game. So far this year, Kirkpatrick has looked like an All American.
Play of the Game #1: Marquis Maze’s electrifying 83-yard punt return for a touchdown in the third quarter after Alabama’s defense forced a punt on the Hogs’ first possession of the second half.
Play of the Game #2: The Crimson Tide got its first points on a gutsy fake field goal call by Nick Saban. AJ McCarron was the holder and Cade Foster was lining up to attempt a 54-yard field goal. Instead, Foster split out wide, McCarron took the snap from the gun rolled to his right, while Michael Williams came from the right side to the left and ran wide open. McCarron hit Williams for a 37-yard touchdown to give the Crimson Tide a 7-0 lead.
Concerns: It’s hard to find any concerns with as dominating as Alabama looked today, but AJ McCarron continues to try to force some passes that aren’t there. His stat line of 15/20 for 200 yards and 2 touchdowns is impressive, but he was fortunate to not have thrown two interceptions. The touchdown pass to Trent Richardson on the screen went right through the hands of an Arkansas defensive lineman.
Good Signs: Alabama may not have sacked Tyler Wilson in the game, but they hurried him 10 times and knocked him down 9 times.
Alabama’s offensive line played its best game of the season. They finally opened up holes to run the ball through. Trent Richardson averaged 7.4 yards per carry on 17 rushing attempts.
Alabama took care of the football. AJ McCarron hasn’t thrown an interception since the two he threw against Kent State in the opener. Alabama also didn’t fumble the football.
What it Means: Alabama is 4-0 and they shut up all the doubters in the media who were calling this defense overrated. There is no doubt left that the Crimson Tide defense is one of the best, if not the best stop units in the nation. They are also 1-0 in the SEC, and handily defeated one of the teams that was widely considered to be one of of their biggest challengers in the SEC West.
Up Next: Alabama heads to the Swamp for a Saturday night showdown against Florida. If Florida beats Kentucky tonight, the two will enter the game undefeated. The game will be nationally televised in the primetime slot on CBS at 7 CDT next Saturday night.