The Woodshed is back after a brief hiatus in which your humble correspondent has been busy welcoming the newest member of the Crimson Tide fanbase into the world; changing diapers and stumbling into walls due to severe sleep deprivation. In light of recent events that have transpired over in Fayetteville I felt it appropriate to revisit the 2008 game between Alabama and Arkansas because I’ve never been one to miss an opportunity to kick a rival when he’s down.
The 2008 season began in a big way for the Tide, with a dismantling of a comically overrated Clemson team and victories over the obligatory empty calories of non-conference cupcakes. As they traditionally do, Alabama opened SEC play against Arkansas. Fayetteville can be a tough place to play, and the Hogs were coached by (now former) coach Bobby Petrino. The pregame discussion focused on the dynamics of offensive guru Petrino’s high-octane passing attack versus defensive genius Nick Saban’s physical schemes. Those discussions would quickly turn to postmortems (as have recent discussions of Petrino’s coaching career).
The game began with Alabama receiving the ball, and the Tide wasted little time in driving 71 yards, finishing with a Mark Ingram touchdown. Although Arkansas actually scored 14 points on the day, in reality the teams could have just packed it in after that first drive and given Bobby Petrino three hours back and allowed him to send a few hundred text messages to volleyball players. The Hogs punted on their first drive and then Alabama’s Glen Coffee ripped off an 87-yard touchdown run. To cap off an explosive quarter, personal favorite Javier Arenas intercepted Arkansas quarterback Casey Dick and returned it for a 63-yard touchdown. Former Tide coach Mike Shula certainly had his flaws, but offering Arenas a scholarship is one thing for which Tide fans will always owe him a debt of gratitude.
Coach Saban must have been feeling charitable in the second quarter, as Arkansas inexplicably scored a touchdown. As has become the trademark of Alabama’s defenses under Saban however, all this did was anger them. Later in the quarter safety Justin Woodall rendered Dick impotent and returned an interception for 74 yards and another Tide touchdown. Casey Dick would throw three interceptions on the day, causing him to be replaced by current Hog starter Tyler Wilson, as well as earning a more heinous punishment: a postgame motorcycle ride with Petrino.
The Alabama offense was running like a finely-tuned Harley Davidson V-Twin on that day and would kick in three more touchdowns. Glen Coffee added another long run to cap his stellar day, and Roy Upchurch abused a worn-out Arkansas defense for a 62-yard scoring rumble in the fourth quarter. Freshman receiver (and possible cyborg) Julio Jones had a 25-yard touchdown reception and it still baffles me to this day how Alabama’s chemistry professors allowed Julio to leave Tuscalo0sa without figuring out how to clone his DNA.
This particular game has been described as a train wreck for Arkansas, but I prefer to think of it as a motorcycle crash with no helmet. The 49-14 roasting of the Hogs no doubt sent Petrino seeking solace in the arms of Fayetteville coeds, and spawned the Arkansas battle cry, “Wait ‘Til Next Year!” Petrino’s record against Alabama would get no better, as his staunch refusal to invest in a running game or a defense yielded nothing but defeat. Perhaps the new Arkansas coach will realize that throwing 40-plus passes against a Nick Saban/Kirby Smart defense is about as intelligent as hiring your mistress.
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