Alabama traveled to Arkansas to play their first SEC road game of the season on Saturday.
At times, it did not look pretty, but the Crimson Tide were able to survive and beat the Razorbacks by a convincing score of 49-26. After the first quarter, the Tide looked like they would have the game decided by halftime, but an injury to Bryce Young and a horrendous second and third quarter made the game interesting until Alabama broke away in the fourth quarter.
Here are some of the key takeaways from the game.
So far this season, we have all seen how big of a weapon Jahmyr Gibbs has been catching the ball out of the backfield, but Saturday was a completely different story. Gibbs decided to show everyone that he can be just as big of a weapon as a runner, as he recorded 206 rushing yards for two touchdowns. Gibbs had two electric touchdown runs in the fourth quarter, going for 72 yards and 76 yards, that helped seal the game for the Crimson Tide.
The second quarter was not great for Alabama as it saw a couple of key players go down to injury. Bryce Young landed awkwardly on his throwing shoulder and suffered an AC sprain, according to coach Nick Saban. Young did come back after halftime still in uniform implying that he could have returned if Alabama absolutely needed him, but he remained out for the remainder of the game and is listed as day-to-day.
The other big injury from the second quarter was Alabama safety Brian Branch. Branch collided with linebacker Henry To’oTo’o and suffered an upper-body injury that caused him to join Young in watching the rest of the game from the sidelines.
Jalen Milroe saw a lot more playing time Saturday than he was expecting as a second quarter injury to Bryce Young sidelined him for the game. Milroe took full advantage of this opportunity, rushing for 91 yards and a touchdown as well as adding a passing touchdown to help lead the Crimson Tide to victory. With Milroe in the lineup, Alabama will run a different style of offense as he is more of a dual-threat quarterback than Bryce Young. Accuracy is not a strong point at the moment for Milroe, but how electric he is running the football when he scrambles helps ease your mind and forget that weakness.
The Alabama receivers were on their way to a big day as they were torching the Arkansas secondary in the first quarter, but when Bryce Young went down, Alabama leaned more on the run game to play it safe with backup quarterback Jalen Milroe. Despite the separation that the receivers were displaying, they were still dropping way too many passes that could be the difference in a win or loss later down the road against tougher competition.
On a positive note, JoJo Earle is back. He did not have a big game, but his only catch was a 22-yard touchdown reception on a quick pass where he showed off the big play potential he has any time he touches the ball.
This was the worst the special teams had looked all season long, and Alabama is fortunate that it did not cost them the game on Saturday. Kicker Will Reichard missed his first field goal of the season, but it was a 53-yard attempt that did have the distance. The biggest mishaps by the special teams came in the disastrous third quarter. Arkansas was able to catch the Crimson Tide sleeping and recovered an onside kick that they converted into a field goal. Minutes later, a bad snap to the punter resulted in Arkansas getting the ball on the Alabama three-yard line where the Razorbacks would punch it in for a touchdown.
Alabama will need to heal their injuries quickly and clean up the special teams mistakes in a hurry before next week when they return home to Bryant Denny Stadium to welcome coach Saban’s best friend Jimbo Fisher and the Texas A&M Aggies.
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