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STEPHEN’S REPORT: Focusing on the Performance of the Players

Running Game [A+] – It’s a beautiful thing when everyone gets an opportunity to showcase their talents on the gridiron. For the Alabama Crimson Tide, it was the running backs that took the opportunity. Against Arkansas’s defense, TJ Yeldon, Kenyan Drake and Derrick Henry put on a show. All three backs did a phenomenal job of securing the football and gaining yards downfield. As a far statistics go, Yeldon had 12 carries for 88 yards (7.3 yards per carry) and a touchdown. Drake totaled eight carries for 104 yards (13.0 yards per carry) and two touchdowns. Against Kentucky, Altee Tenpenny was the freshman that shined under lights in scoring a touchdown. This week, Derrick Henry embraced his moment. He had six carries for 111 yards (18.5 yards per carry) including an 80-yard burst to pay dirt for his first collegiate touchdown.

Offensive Line [A+] – After totaling 668 yards of offense against Kentucky, Alabama’s offensive line led the way to another productive performance for the Tide. The Crimson Tide amassed 532 yards of offense (352 yards rushing) against the Razorbacks. Once again, the offensive line was able to assert its will and drive Arkansas off the ball. The O-Line stepped up in passing blocking as well, no green was on AJ McCarron’s jersey. Alabama achieved 25 first downs in the game and didn’t commit a penalty.

Defense [A+] – Not achieving the shutout last week against Kentucky really angered Alabama. So what did the defense do? They decided to take their anger out by roasting the Hogs. Defensively, the Crimson Tide played well. Though they gave up 165 yards rushing, they made up for it by only surrendering 91 yards passing. Arkansas was just 40 percent on third down conversions (6-15) and Alabama forced three turnovers and a sack on Brandon Allen.

What a difference it made for the Tide having Ha Ha Clinton-Dix back in the secondary?! After serving a suspension due to off-the-field issues, he was back in action against Arkansas. He along with Cyrus Jones each had an interception. Most importantly, the Crimson Tide went back to what they do best and that’s shutting opposing teams off the scoreboard.

AJ McCarron [A+] – Coming into the matchup against Arkansas, ESPN’s NFL analyst Mel Kiper, Jr. had five quarterbacks (Manziel, Mettenberger, Mariota, Hundley and Bridgewater) in his top 5. Though four (Manziel, Mettenberger, Hundley and Bridgewater) of the five loss, McCarron continues to roll and play efficient, yet he wasn’t in the top 5. Behind the offensive line, McCarron was able to sit the pocket and scan the field. Once again, he did a great job of taking what the defense gave him and not force anything.  His overall numbers were outstanding. McCarron was 15-21 (71.4 percent of passes completed) passing for 180 yards and three touchdowns.

The site that many Alabama fans were happy to see was Amari Cooper catching his first touchdown pass of the 2013 season. After battling a toe injury, it seems like Cooper is finally healthy and looks to get things back on track. He had three receptions in the game for 65 yards (21.7 yards per catch) and a touchdown.

For the Arkansas Razorbacks, the only difference between this season and last season was a different coach and venue (Bryant-Denny Stadium). The result was the exact same, a 52-0 shutout. Though Alex Collins had a decent game with 18 carries for 77 yards, he nor Jonathan Williams (13 carries for 48 yard) rushed for a touchdown in the game. Brandon Allen was struggling coming into the matchup, but after this game he has a lot more to improve on.

Statistics wise, Allen had a terrible performance. He went 7-25 (28 percent of passes completed) passing for 91 yards and two interceptions. Arkansas’s two physical receivers, Javontee Herndon (two receptions for 42 yards) and Hunter Henry (three receptions for 42 yards) were non-factors in this game. For Arkansas, they remain searching for answers. The dream of being bowl eligible is starting to slip away as they are 3-5 (0-4 in conference) overall.

As for Alabama, the margin of victory was huge; however, the win came at a cost. Star defensive back Vinnie Sunseri suffered a knee injury while covering a kickoff. He limped off the field with trainers. Coach Saban told reporters that Sunseri’s left knee will be examined on Sunday, but it could be serious. If that’s the case, then it really thins the Crimson Tide in the secondary. Alabama has already lost Nick Perry for the season due to injury and cornerback Bradley Sylve is day to day with a high ankle sprain.

Alabama fans can only hope that Sunseri will be fine and back on the field with his teammates. For now, the Crimson Tide has accomplished three things. They are 7-0, still the No.1 team in the nation and were the only team to not suffer an upset this week in the SEC.

10/19/2013 Arkansas vs Alabama Football Highlights

Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 10+ years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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