Hogs Freshmen Solid Against Stingy Defense

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama entered Saturday's 24-13 win sporting the nation's No. 2 defense against the run, surrendering 38 yards per game.

Using a mix of freshman tailbacks Darren McFadden, who made his first start, and Felix Jones, Arkansas gained 41 yards on 11 carries in the first quarter alone.

The team had 20 carries for 77 yards by the end of the half and finished with 237 yards on 40 carries, an average of 5.9 yards per carry.

"They have very good running backs," said Alabama defensive coordinator Joe Kines. "We knew it was going to be a day's work. We talked about it being a 15-round boxing match and they didn't miss it by much, I mean it went 14 and a half."

McFadden stiff-armed strong safety Roman Harper on his way to a 70-yard touchdown run with 13:29 remaining in regulation, cutting Alabama's lead to 17-10.

"It was a wide-open hole and I just had one defender to beat," said McFadden, who led Arkansas' attack with eight carries for 95 yards. "It's like I say, 'One defender can't take me down.' I wasn't going to let one defender take me down."

Kines said his team stopped the play for three and half quarters before letting that one get through.

"He just out-ran us," Kines said. "It's like your car is faster than our car. You've got to keep those backs hemmed up. That guy is just a freshman and that's the scary part of that deal. We're going to have to chase him for three more years.

"(Defense) is just like playing Russian Roulette, it don't take but one of those bullets to kill you."

Tide safety DeMeco Ryans was equally impressed. He was one of the players trailing McFadden on the 70-yard run, the longest allowed by the Tide defense in four games.

"You have to give Arkansas credit, they called a good play and they out-ran us," Ryans said. "They have pretty good running backs. They're big, strong guys and they're fast. They're going to be great players."

Senior tailback De'Arrius Howard, who began the day as the Hogs' top rusher with an average of 87.7 yards per game, did not play until there was 2:26 remaining in the first half.

Howard started the second half and was the only tailback used during the first two series of the third quarter.



Hall Of Shame

Alabama quarterback Brodie Croyle saw the mismatch right away: Receiver D.J. Hall against air. It turned into a 5-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter which put the game out of reach for the Razorbacks.

"It was supposed to be a draw play," Croyle said. "It was the same thing we saw in a (preseason) scrimmage, so we didn't want to give it away. I gave (Hall) a nod and he just gave me a little tap of the head to let me know that he knew and it worked out for us.

"You don't want to look out there too hard. I only looked out there once and I didn't look out there again. I was trying to watch to see if the guy that was supposed to be covering was going to run out there and he didn't.

"It kind of sealed the deal for us."



Hicks Hurt Again

Hogs tight end Jared Hicks made his first appearance this season after being slowed by an ankle injury. He caught a key 9-yard reception for a first down on Arkansas' second possession.

It was one of two receptions by tight ends in the game as Mason Templeton hauled in a 13-yarder for a first down midway through the second quarter.

Hicks was in for two more plays after his catch before aggravating his sprained ankle. He did not return.



Sidelines

Arkansas had four players not dress because of injuries. They were receiver Chris Baker (knee), cornerback Darius Vinnett (knees) and offensive linemen Zac Tubbs (ankle) and Jonathan Luigs (high ankle sprain).

Linebacker Pierre Brown, who's from Birmingham, Ala., suited up as one of the team captains after missing practice this week with a knee injury. He did not play.

In addition, Hogs freshman reserve linebacker Tyrell Graham did not make the trip because of personal issues.



Arkansas Burning

The Razorbacks burned all three of their first-half timeouts in the first 13:08. The first was taken by the defense when Alabama elected to go for it instead of punting on fourth-and-2 from the Arkansas 28.

The next two came on offense late in the first quarter.

The Tide only used two of its first-half timeouts, with the first coming at the 12:51 mark of the second quarter.



No Respect

Special game day sections of The Tuscaloosa News were spread throughout the pressbox. Inside, all 10 of the staff's predictions had Alabama winning.

One of the writers, David Wasson, forecasted this final score: Alabama 99, Arkansas -2. With a hint of sarcasm, he justified the 101-point margin by the team's performance in the past week with "Alabama moving up, and Arkansas plummeting down."



Snake Stabler

Former Alabama and NFL quarterback Ken "Snake" Stabler lives in Mobile, Ala., and is color analyst during Alabama football radio broadcasts. Except for a few shingles, his home was not damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

Stabler, no relation to 'Bama right guard B.J. Stabler, playfully scolded his daughter for saying she drove 82 mph to make it to the game by kickoff.

"That's too fast," Stabler said.



Skinner Shines

Arkansas punter Jacob Skinner didn't help his yards-per-punt average, but his two punts that were downed by Chris Houston in the opponent's 5 helped his defense in a big way.

Skinner entered the game averaging 41.6 yards per punt. He averaged 36.7 yards on seven punts on Saturday.

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