Alabama Football: Tide Survives Against Arkansas 14-13


The Alabama Crimson Tide hung on to squeak by the Arkansas Razorbacks by a final of 14-13 in another lackluster performance marked by penalties and mental mistakes.

The difference in the game was a blocked extra point attempt with under four minutes to go in the first half after an Arkansas score. Alabama goes to 5-1 on the season and picked up an important SEC West win, but demonstrated once again that they are a long way from being a contender for the SEC Championship.

The woes started early for Alabama. After holding Arkansas to a three-and-out, senior Christion Jones fumbled away the Razorback punt. Arkansas could not capitalize, but it was a sign of the sloppy play to come.

“We have two guys [on kick return duty] … that are not making the kinds of choices and decisions we need to make,” Nick Saban said in his postgame comments. “The judgement on the first one was horrible.” The Tide fumbled the ball four times, losing two. Alabama is minus-four in turnovers through six games.

Offensively, Alabama was out-of-synch and discombobulated all game. Blake Sims was 11 of 21 for 161 yards through the air. His leading receiver was O.J. Howard, whose single 47-yard reception led all receivers. Amari Cooper was held to two catches for 22 yards. Both T.J. Yeldon and DeAndrew White caught touchdown passes from Sims.

The run game was no better for the Tide. Alabama racked up a mere 66 yards on the ground. T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry combined for a mere 70 yards, with negative yardage by other players leading to the final statistic.

Arkansas was seemingly unstoppable on third down most of the game, with quarterback Brandon Allen going 21 of 40 for 245 yards and a touchdown. His lone interception came late in the game as Arkansas tried to drive the field to position themselves for a game-winning field goal.

Alabama held the Razorbacks running game to 89 yards on a rainy day in which it was expected Arkansas smashmouth style of play might cause the Tide defense problems. The biggest problem for Alabama, however, was Alabama.

The Crimson Tide was penalized four times for 30 yards, with critical mental mistakes repeatedly turning short yardage situations into passing downs.

Near the end of the game, Alabama failed to convert a 4th and one when Blake Sims inexplicably leaped up instead of diving under to gain the extra yard needed.

“That might have been the ugliest quarterback sneak I’ve seen in my 42 years of coaching,” Saban said.

Once again punter J.K. Scott was the most impressive player on the team, which should trouble all Alabama fans. His booming punts flipped field position several times, putting Arkansas in bad field position all game long.

Still, a win is a win, but Alabama is halfway through the season, and is no closer to cleaning up the mental errors than they were coming into the first game. And the schedule doesn’t get any easier from here; Alabama hosts Texas A&M next week.

“We did not execute as well as we need to,” said Saban. “What won this game is the heart of the players.”