Alabama didn’t always look sharp but had too much for Arkansas’ defense.
Among the most notable performances was that of running back Kenyan Drake, who showed his skills on a 46-yard TD run after breaking two tackles at the line of scrimmage in the second quarter. He rushed for 85 yards and two scores in the first half alone.
Also notable was wide receiver Amari Cooper’s first touchdown catch of the season, on a 30-yard lob from AJ McCarron.
Alabama allowed some first downs between the 20-yard lines but largely dominated Arkansas. A coverage bust and a fake punt allowed Arkansas to make a couple of drives, but they died without points.
The matchup of Arkansas’ run-oriented offense and Alabama’s run defense went as expected, as Arkansas wasn’t able to do enough in the passing game to offset it. What Arkansas got done in the passing game came largely because of the first-quarter injury to safety Vinnie Sunseri.
On the bad side, Alabama’s punt-receiving team allowed a fake-punt conversion in the second quarter, as Arkansas punter Sam Irwin-Hill took the snap and ran to a wide-open left side.
On the upside, Deion Belue kept points off the board by blocking a Zach Hocker field goal attempt in the second quarter.
Also, Alabama’s kickoff team forced and recovered a Keon Hatcher fumble to start the second half. Derrick Henry caused it, and Eddie Jackson recovered.
A solid overall effort.
There wasn’t much secret what Alabama had to do on defense, and the Crimson Tide stopped the run.
Offensively, coordinator Doug Nussmeier dialed up a nice mix, with 14 runs for 132 yards and 16 passes for 138 in the decisive first half. The goal was to control tempo offensively, and Alabama did.
It was a par performance against an overmatched opponent.
The soft middle of Alabama’s schedule continues to be soft as Alabama won its fifth straight game by at least 25 points.
Perhaps the best news for Alabama is the sense that this season is finally starting to feel like last season, as the Crimson Tide piles up routs headed into its Nov. 9 showdown with LSU.
The competition has something to do with it, but it looks like Alabama is hitting form after much handwringing over early season problems on the offensive line and secondary. The Tide is rounding into form for its next big test.