Ever-improving, unbeaten Tide near flawless in 52-0 steamrolling of Hogs
Seems like each week it’s getting harder and harder for Nick Saban to find something to complain about.
Not only is Alabama continuing to win. It’s continuing to win in more and more impressive fashion each week.
The latest trampling? Saturday night’s 52-0 demolition of Arkansas in front of 101,821 fans at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Alabama (7-0 overall, 4-0 in SEC) was near flawless against the Razorbacks (3-5, 0-4).
Right from the start.
Alabama scored touchdowns on its first two possessions of the game, while the Alabama defense asserted itself just as quickly, forcing a three-and-out on Arkansas’ first offensive possession followed by forcing an Arkansas turnover — an interception by newly reinstated safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix — on Arkansas’ second possession.
After that? Just more of the same. All the way to the final minute when freshman running back Derrick Henry — somewhere way down the running back depth chart — ripped off an 80-yard TD run to cap the crimson-and-white scorefest.
How close-to-perfect was Alabama Saturday night against a fellow SEC West member who used to go toe-to-toe with the Tide prior to last year — last year when Alabama beat Arkansas by an identical 52-0 score? The numbers pretty much tell the story.
McCarron, who was pulled in the third quarter with Alabama up 42-0, finished 15-of-21 for 180 yards and three TDs. Kenyan Drake, who usually plays second fiddle to T.J. Yeldon in the running back department, turned out to be the lead dog on this night, finishing with 104 yards and two TDs on eight carries — a whopping 13.0 yards per carry average. Yeldon added 88 yards and a TD on 12 carries.
Eight different players caught passes for Alabama. Amari Cooper was the biggest producer with three catches for 65 yards and a TD. Linebacker C.J. Mosley led the Bama D with 10 tackles.
Want more near-perfection? Try no penalties, no sacks and no turnovers. Try 532 yards of total offense to 256.
After halftime — when Alabama held a comfortable 28-0 lead and had already blocked a 41-yard Arkansas field goal attempt — the only remaining drama was whether or not the Tide would be able to notch its second shutout in the last four games. And, like it often has to do in these situations, it had to depend on its backups to do it.
They came through. Barely. The Tide D reserves forced a Brandon Allen incompletion on fourth down deep in Alabama territory with just 1:48 remaining.
Saturday’s A-plus performance didn’t come out of nowhere for Alabama. The Tide has been moving closer and closer to near perfection for the past four weeks. It started after Alabama’s somewhat sluggish — at least by Alabama standards — 31-6 win over Colorado State on Sept. 21. Since then Alabama has looked sharp in beating Ole Miss (25-0), Georgia State (45-3), Kentucky (48-7) … and now Arkansas.
“Looking at this game and at previous games, I like where we are heading right now,” Alabama offensive lineman Anthony Steen said, “and I hope to keep it up.”
About the only Alabama didn’t do in near-perfect fashion Saturday night was stay healthy. Strong safety Vinnie Sunseri exited the game in the first quarter with an apparent knee injury. He has an MRI scheduled for Sunday.
“We’ll see what the verdict is,” Saban said. “It could be serious.”
Defensive back Bradley Sylve suffered a high ankle sprain and will be day-to-day, according to the Bama head coach.
“We don’t know whether he’ll be able to play next week at this point in time,” Saban said.
Reserve running back Altee Tenpenny suffered a turf toe injury. Saban said Tenpenny, like Sylve, is questionable for next week’s game.
Alabama will host Tennessee next Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Volunteers upset No. 11 South Carolina 23-21 Saturday afternoon.
“I think it’s important that our team continue to focus on improving,” Saban said. “I still don’t think we played our best game.”
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