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Alabama’s takeaways from SEC road victory over Arkansas

Alabama QB Jalen Milroe (#4) runs for 75 yards against Arkansas defense
Photo comes via SEC Media Portal

Alabama faced adversity in 2021 and battled it against Texas, but last week provided a matchup where the Crimson Tide grew up on the road.

Arkansas trailed 0-28 with 2:51 left in the second quarter.

RELATED: Alabama reclaims No. 1 spot in the AP Top 25 following Arkansas win

Jalen Milroe tossed a touchdown pass to wide receiver JoJo Earle, and Razorback fans felt the game would be a blowout. KJ Jefferson and the Hogs’ defense came storming back. Arkansas scored a touchdown before halftime and gave the Crimson Tide a scare with 23 unanswered points. The momentum swung in the Razorbacks’ favor until the flood gates opened with Alabama’s rushing attack. The Tide pulled away with a 49-26 victory, and it happened without Bryce Young (shoulder) in the second half.

Nick Saban saw a resilient effort from his team. Below are the takeaways from the game.

1. Bryce Young’s injury not serious, but Jalen Milroe stepped up

Alabama fans witnessed a scary moment in the second quarter versus Arkansas.

Bryce Young had 173 passing yards and two touchdowns as he guided the Tide on another potential scoring drive. Drew Sanders, a former Alabama linebacker, pressured Young on a play, and he landed on his shoulder. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner felt extreme pain on the following as he pointed to his shoulder in walking to the sideline. Young threw his helmet to the ground in frustration and went inside the medical tent. He ran into the locker room at halftime, and though he joined his teammates in the second half, Young did not play the rest of the game. National media was concerned about Young; however, Jalen Milroe grew up before the eyes of Alabama fans. Arkansas cut the lead to 28-23 when the second-year quarterback made the play of the game.

RELATED: WATCH: Nick Saban Press Conference After Alabama defeats Arkansas

Milroe took off for a 77-yard run that put the Tide in the red zone, and Jase McClellan finished the possession with a touchdown.

He totaled 65 passing yards, 91 rushing yards, and two touchdowns. The native Texan played with poise and remained focused on propelling Alabama to victory in a hostile environment. Milroe needs to tweak some things in the passing game, but he will be dynamic once he improves. As for Young, he has a sprained AC joint in his shoulder. Coach Saban said he’s dealt with it before.

The injury is not as bad as many thought, and Young will be day-to-day this week. He looks to start against Texas A&M.

2. Jahmyr Gibbs is a human cheat code

Jahmyr Gibbs showed his skills as a wide receiver since the Texas game, but the all-around weapon is a human cheat code.

Gibbs exploded with his best performance as a running back versus Arkansas. His speed, vision, power, cutback abilities, and contact balance allowed him to become Alabama’s first 200-yard rusher of the season. He averaged 11.4 yards per rushing attempt, including two 70+ yard touchdowns. Gibbs had 206 yards rushing on 18 carries and two receptions for 20 yards.

He is Alabama’s leader for rushing yards (378) and receptions (19) through four games.

3. Alabama does not have a No. 1 wide receiver

Alabama has produced several No. 1 options at wide receiver in the Saban era.

Julio Jones started the trend in 2008, but Amari Cooper, Calvin Ridley, Jerry Jeudy, DeVonta Smith, Henry Ruggs III, Jaylen Waddle, and Jameson Williams were excellent primary receivers. The Tide does not have a reliable playmaker for Bryce Young.

Ja’Corey Brooks had a massive performance against Vanderbilt, but he dropped passes versus Arkansas.

RELATED: Former Alabama players react to Crimson Tide 49-26 win over Arkansas

Traeshon Holden and Jermaine Burton have been inconsistent. The Crimson Tide has not targeted Cameron Latu (tight end) enough, and young names have to emerge quickly. Kobe Prentice and Isaiah Bond made plays. Prentice led the team with 92 yards and a touchdown on three catches. Bond got behind the Razorbacks’ defense for a 53-yard reception and finished with 76 yards on two catches. JoJo Earle caught a touchdown pass on a screenplay from Jalen Milroe in his first action of the season.

Alabama’s opponents do not know who the go-to receiver is, but the Tide does not know either.

Someone has to take on the role moving forward.

4. Alabama’s offensive line grew up

We were waiting to see when Alabama’s offensive line would take on the mentality of Coach Eric Wolford in a marquee game.

The moment came last week as the Tide grew up against Arkansas. Seth McLaughlin got the start at center and showed why he needs to remain there. He blasted running lanes for Gibbs, Milroe, and others — assisting Alabama’s rushing attack to 317 yards and five touchdowns.McLaughlin secured the key blocked on both long touchdown runs from Gibbs and Milroe’s 77-yard run.

The Crimson Tide held the nation’s best pass-rushing team to one sack. 

5. Alabama’s defense pushed through adversity

Alabama’s defense handled Arkansas in the first half but faced adversity in the second half.

The kick return group was not ready for the Razorbacks to do an onside kick, and Alabama’s punt team made a blunder.

Special teams for the Tide spotted Arkansas 13 points. If those mistakes don’t happen, the final score is 49-13. Several players grew up, including Kool-Aid McKinstry, Jaheim Oatis, and Deontae Lawson. DeMarcco Hellams came downfield for a few huge tackles and forced a fumble. Alabama did not allow a 100-yard receiver, but it needs to clean up its run defense.

Raheim Sanders totaled 101 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries.

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith. 

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