Saturday was a tale of two halves as Alabama held on late, beating Arkansas 24-21 on homecoming for Nick Saban’s 200th win at Alabama.
It wasn’t the prettiest of games for the Crimson Tide, but this season Alabama has had to settle for ugly victories.
Here are some key takeaways from the game.
Throughout his entire career, Will Reichard has been automatic for the Crimson Tide. After Alabama’s first touchdown Saturday, Reichard made the extra point, making him the SEC’s all-time points leader. Heading into Saturday’s game, Reichard was tied with former Auburn kicker Daniel Carlson. Reichard went a perfect 3-for-3 on extra points while adding a 30-yard field goal in his only attempt. So far this season, Reichard has not missed a kick, having made 13 field goals and 21 extra points. If he can score 45 more points for the Crimson Tide, he will become the NCAA’s all-time points leader.
Pass Protection Woes
Once again, the Alabama pass protection was an issue. Alabama allowed five sacks on Saturday, continuing a streak of five consecutive games in which Jalen Milroe has been sacked at least four times. That ties the longest streak by a quarterback in the past 20 seasons. Alabama continued to get beat at the left tackle position as well as a few missed blocking assignments from the running backs.
Second Half Struggles
Alabama headed into the second half with a 21-6 lead on the verge of a blowout victory. Instead of keeping their foot on the gas, Alabama let Arkansas back into the game and had to squeak out a narrow three-point win. A 30-yard field goal by Reichard were the only points Alabama could put on the scoreboard in the second half. Alabama allowed Arkansas to run for 82 yards in the second half compared to just 18 in the first half. Alabama has struggled to put teams away in the second half all season long and you just wonder when it will result in a loss.
The Alabama pass rush is clicking on all cylinders. Saturday, the Crimson Tide got after the quarterback once again, recording four sacks and four quarterback pressures. More importantly, the pass rush came in key moments to end Arkansas drives. Outside of the fourth quarter against Texas, this Alabama defense has played like a playoff team.
Coming off the best game of his career, Jalen Milroe had more of a pedestrian performance against Arkansas. Milroe threw for 238 yards and two touchdowns, but most importantly, he had zero interceptions. Milroe’s inconsistency throwing the short passes came to light Saturday, completing just 48% of his 21 pass attempts. Milroe showed great touch, threading the needle on a 14-yard toss to Amari Niblack to seal the win for the Crimson Tide.
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