I think now we know the Alabama Crimson Tide are pretty damn good. The game against Arkansas didn't start off that way for Alabama. Razorback quarterback Ryan Mallett torched the Crimson Tide secondary in the first half. Tide quarterback Greg McIlroy tossed threw two picks in the second quarter as Alabama was down 17-7 at halftime.
Things changed in the second half. Alabama's secondary adjusted, the defensive front was pressuring Mallett and Alabama's running duo, Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson, were running pretty much at will.
"First of all great job by our guys in the second half." Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. "We told the players when we came here we were going to have to change the way everybody thought. We were going to have to go out there and work and earn it and it would take a tremendous amount of intensity and enthusiasm and energy to do that and we did not have that in the first half. That was really not a good half of football, and I really don’t want the players to put it behind them. I want them to remember what it’s like to not play the way you’re capable of playing."
Arkansas meanwhile couldn't get pressure on McIlroy, couldn't stop the run, didn't run the ball in the 2nd half and couldn't get key third down conversions.
Mark Ingram finished with 157 yards and two touchdowns. Trent Richardson added 85 yards rushing and 25 yards receiving. Richardson has to lead the nation in broken tackles. How many Razorback defenders had Richardson in their grasp yet slipped away?
Arkansas' Ryan Mallet threw for 357 yards and a touchdown but the three interceptions killed the Hogs' chances and was a blow to his Heisman campaign.
The running game didn't help Arkansas either with only 64 yards rushing. After a hot first half the Razorbacks could close the deal against the reigning national champions.
"We started off really good." Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett said. "We just came out in the second half and forgot to finish. We should’ve finished that game out and had a win right now.”
“We just couldn’t find a way to win in the 4th quarter." Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino said. "We had the opportunity and just couldn’t get it done.”
Chris Pollone of WVTM-TV Birmingham has the game story from Fayetteville. (Thanks WVTM-TV)
More post game sound from Alabama DB Robert Lester, RB Mark Ingram and QB Greg McIlroy
Photo Courtesy: Jason Ivester/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette