Tale of two halves for Alabama Football

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Alabama Football has been a second half team so far in the 2023 season. On Saturday against Arkansas, that was not the case. The Tide sprinted out to a 21-6 halftime lead and stretched the lead to 24-6 in the third quarter. By the time the game clock expired, Bama had survived a late collapse and won an anxiety-inducing 24-21 decision.

In the first half of the season, Alabama appeared to establish itself as a team that started slow before playing much better as the game went on.

Against USF, Bama went into the locker room tied 3-3 before winning the second half 14-0. In a win over Ole Miss, the Tide trailed 7-6 at the break and outscored the Rebels 18-3 in the second half. In last week’s road win over Texas A&M, Bama went down 17-10 at halftime and came back to win the second half by a score of 16-3.

With an 11 A.M. kickoff this week, Bama got out to its usual slow start. The Tide was sluggish on both sides of the ball for most of the first quarter, and two long field goals had given Arkansas a 6-0 lead.

A 79-yard touchdown strike from Jalen Milroe to Kobe Prentice jump-started the team, and Alabama quickly rolled up a 21-6 halftime lead. After extending its advantage to 24-6 in the second half, Bama slowly began to crumble at the end of the third quarter.

Mental mistakes have plagued this Alabama Football team all year, and a misfortunate series of errors helped to shift the momentum to the side of the Razorbacks.

With Arkansas facing a three-score deficit and a third & long deep in its own territory, the Alabama defense appeared to get a stop and get off the field. However, a facemask penalty on safety Jaylen Key kept the drive alive and gave the Hogs a spark.

A couple plays later, the Bama defense had an opportunity to sack KJ Jefferson. However, the big-bodied quarterback escaped the grasp of Justin Eboigbe, Jaheim Oatis, and others to not only avoid the loss, but to barrel into the Bama secondary for a 22-yard gain.

Finally, facing another third down in the red zone, freshman safety Caleb Downs was called for pass interference to once again extend the drive. The penalty gave Arkansas a first and goal, which they quickly converted into a touchdown. Suddenly, Bama’s comfortable lead was cut to 11.

At this point, Jalen Milroe and the Alabama offense had fallen completely out of rhythm and failed to generate anything. More Jefferson magic allowed the Razorbacks to drive the length of the field again, eventually punching it into the end zone and adding a two-point conversion.

Leading only 24-21 with a non-functioning offense, Alabama Football could’ve been in trouble at home. Arkansas got the ball back with a chance to take the lead, and briefly began moving it once again. A Dallas Turner sack on third down ended the threat, and Bama ultimately escaped with the homecoming win.

As a team that had previously made a living off of dominating the second half of games, ‘second half Bama’ did not show up this week and was outscored 15-3 after halftime. Perhaps the team got complacent with a big lead at the break. As Coach Saban predicted last week, this one turned into a dogfight.

Next. Saban's prophetic lecture on "nothing". dark

If it wants to be a championship contender, Alabama Football has to start putting two quality halves together.