There’s really only so much a defense can do when 12 yards separate its opponent from the end zone.
That’s the situation Alabama’s defense faced late in the second quarter of the 27-14 win on Saturday.
Arkansas took a 7-3 lead over Alabama late with 1:29 left in the second quarter.
“I was really pleased with the way we played in the second half,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “I thought we didn’t play poorly in the first half; we just turned the ball over and didn’t finish drives in the red zone. We also gave them the ball on the -yard line, which is where they got the touchdown. At halftime, in games like this, we knew this would be a tough game. We had a tough game with these guys last year, and we know what kind of team they are. They’re well coached, and they play with a lot of toughness.”
For 29 minutes and 52 seconds, Arkansas didn’t see the end zone again. In those nearly 30 minutes or roughly two quarters of the game, Arkansas was in Alabama territory once, and the field position was negated by a delay of game penalty on fourth-and-one while trying to draw Alabama’s defense offside.
It didn’t work.
Instead, the Razorbacks wasted one of their four downs in Alabama territory. The first three came from a touchdown drive started on Alabama’s 12-yard line following an interception.
“I think defense played solid the whole game,” senior cornerback Cyrus Jones said. “Second half, I mean, it was a dominating performance, and I think we played well in the first half too. I mean we got the ball in the red zone already. It’s tough to stop a team from putting points on the board when they get the ball with such short field position, but at halftime we knew it was going to come down to a defensive effort. Offense was kind of taking a little bit of time to get going, but we knew they were going to come around eventually, and we just have to keep executing as a defense.”
Arkansas’ final possession resulted in a 54-yard touchdown pass. That one play accounted for nearly 25 percent of the Razorbacks’ total yards (220).
Alabama’s defense forced one fumble that forced the Razorbacks into a fourth-and-one position. Arkansas punted 10 times, averaging 40.2 yards a punt.
Late in the third quarter, Arkansas faked a punt on fourth-and-five and picked up two yards.
“We told them to watch out for it,” Saban said. “We had been going punt safe, and we had a little better field position. We didn’t know if they would do it, so we had a return on, but we had practiced that against the return as well, and the guys did a good job of responding to it.”
Jones had three punt returns, including a 27-yard return to the Arkansas 16.
Safety Eddie Jackson notched his third interception of the season and second in as many games. He has 111 yards on interception returns, following his 20-yard return on Saturday night. He is seventh in the country on interception return yards.
“It was a team effort,” Jackson said. “They’re a great offense, great quarterback, great running team. Our front seven gave a great push, showed a good disguise in the secondary, and I was able to make a play.”
Arkansas’ quarterback Brandon Allen went 15-for-32 with one interception. He threw for 176 yards and two touchdowns. He was sacked three times.
Alabama had 53 total tackles. Linebacker Reggie Ragland led with eight total including a three-yard sack. He also had a forced fumble, pass breakup and two quarterback hurries. He leads the team with 50 total tackles on the season, 18 more than Jarran Reed, who is second.
On Saturday, Alabama’s defense, which averages 265 yards and 15.7 points allowed per game, faces off with an undefeated No. 9 Texas A&M, which averages 480 yards of offense and just over 39 points per game.
Source:: The Crimson White Sports