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

Quarterback Play—Overall [C-]

Blake Sims [C-] – It was another road game and another week of stress for Sims. He didn’t toss an interception, but he made some poor choices against Arkansas. The Razorbacks defense did a great job of pressuring Sims. He tends to focus too much on Amari Cooper. Sims must improve on working through his progression and target different receivers. Alabama wants to get more players involved offensively, but it won’t happen if Cooper is the only receiver that Sims will target.

Summary: Blake Sims exited Fayetteville with a win, but got away with some questionable decision making. Arkansas’s defense sacked Sims twice. The Razorbacks baited Sims underneath and held him to three completions over 15 yards, including a 47-yard completion to O.J. Howard. Overall, Sims completed 52.3 percent of his passes (11-21) for 161 yards and two touchdowns.

Receivers—Overall [C]

Summary: When a quarterback struggles, the entire team struggles. Alabama’s receiving corps was null and void against Arkansas. DeAndrew White and T.J. Yeldon each registered a touchdown reception. Freshman Cameron Sims had one catch, but it was a 15-yard reception that set up a score. Amari Cooper was held to two catches for 22 yards. White led all receivers in receptions with four. O.J. Howard led all receivers in yards with 47.

Special Teams—Overall [D]

JK Scott [A] – Rainy conditions didn’t bother Scott. He rose the occasion against Arkansas. Scott excelled on flipping field position. He had eight punts for 354 yards. Scott averaged 44.2 yards per punt and pinned Arkansas inside its 20-yard line seven times.

Adam Griffith [D] – The field was wet. The ball was wet. It still doesn’t matter. Griffith attempted one field goal in the contest. He missed a 30-yard attempt from the middle of the field. Griffith has to find consistency in his kicking. He averaged 61.3 yards with a touchback on kickoffs, but Griffith needs to make field goals.

Return Game [D] – Rain didn’t bother JK Scott, but it definitely messed with Alabama’s return game. Christion Jones, Cyrus Jones and Landon Collins each fumbled on special teams. The Crimson Tide lost one of three fumbles, but ball security is a must in every facet of the game.

Summary: Freshman JK Scott continues to be lone positive for Alabama on special teams. It’s great to create huge plays in the return game, but its best to just protect the ball. Christion Jones and Cyrus Jones tried to do too much. Landon Collins didn’t secure the football and Arkansas stripped it from him. Adam Griffith needs to regain some confidence.

Offensive Line—Overall [D]

Summary: Arkansas’s defense line did a superb job. Trey Flowers and Darius Philon aggravated Alabama’s offensive line. Flowers and Philon each recorded a sack. Both players combined for 14 tackles. The Crimson Tide’s offensive line did a poor job of run blocking. T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry didn’t have much room to run. False start penalties continue to plague the offensive line.

Defensive Play—Overall [B+]

Defensive Line [A] – Alabama’s defensive line affected Arkansas’s quarterback Brandon Allen. The Crimson Tide generated pressure with a four-man rush a lot in the contest. Jarran Reed and A’Shawn Robinson each collected five tackles. Reed also had a sack and two pass breakups. Brandon Ivory and Darren Lake each recorded a tackle. Jonathan Allen was the difference maker against Arkansas. His blocked extra-point (John Henson—Arkansas kicker) was huge.

Linebackers [A] – Reggie Ragland was a man amongst boys Saturday night. He led the team in tackles (12) and collected a pass breakup. Xzavier Dickson recorded eight tackles and a sack. Trey DePriest had six tackles and a forced fumble. Dillon Lee appeared in the stats column, tallying four stops. Ryan Anderson had three tackles, a fumble recovery and a sack.

Secondary [C] – Alabama’s secondary gave up 246 passing yards, but it didn’t break in the end. The Crimson Tide held Arkansas’s tight end Hunter Henry to three catches for 38 yards. Keon Hatcher had a good game, but it was AJ Derby that had the most success against Alabama. Derby caught four passes for 77 yards and a touchdown. Landon Collins led all defensive backs with eight tackles, two pass breakups and an interception.

Summary: Alabama’s defense came to play. It had to because its offense struggled. Trey DePriest, Jonathan Allen and Landon Collins had the three biggest plays of the game. DePriest caused a fumble (Kody Walker) for a touchback. Allen blocked an extra-point and Collins registered an interception in the fourth quarter. Jonathan Williams was productive for Arkansas, but Alabama bottled up Alex Collins.

In conclusion

Alabama was still suffering from a hangover after a loss to Mississippi. The Crimson Tide came out flat against Arkansas. The Tide’s defense played well and bailed its offensive out of much heart ache and pain. Arkansas’s fans made it tough for Alabama to focus and Bret Bielema had a good game plan drawn up.

Chemistry is one positive thing this Alabama team has going for itself. The players love, respect and fight for each other. This is good. Togetherness is great, but it needs to be mixed with consistency. It will be difficult for Alabama to make the college football playoff if tonight’s mistakes aren’t cleaned up.

Alabama emerged victorious 14-13. The Crimson Tide is 5-1, (4-1). Was it ugly? Yes. Was it disappointing? No doubt. But, in the end a win is a win. Head coach Nick Saban would much rather address the media after a win versus a loss.

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