FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — There were some highlights for the Alabama defense.
Defensive back Shyheim Carter picked off Arkansas quarterback Ty Storey and returned the interception 44 yards for a touchdown. The Crimson Tide forced three fumbles and recovered two. Alabama ultimately defeated Arkansas 65-31 at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on Saturday to remain undefeated.
But there were also lowlights. More lows than highs really.
“It looks good when you see (65-31),” UA defensive lineman Quinnen Williams said. “But if you go back and look, you’ll see all the mistakes Alabama made and all the stuff Alabama doesn’t do. … It doesn’t look good.”
Arkansas scored more points against Alabama than any other team has since the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship game, where the Clemson put up 35 to win the title.
“I don’t think you really beat the other team when you give up 31 points, like we did today,” UA coach Nick Saban said, “at least from the defense’s perspective.”
It started in the first quarter, too. Storey threw an 8-yard pass to tight end Cheyenne O’Grady for the Razorbacks’ first touchdown. Alabama defensive back Trevon Diggs was closest to O’Grady in the end zone.
During the second quarter, O’Grady caught another touchdown pass, this time a 3-yarder from Cole Kelley. UA defensive back Deionte Thompson was on O’Grady but failed to break up the pass. He was visibly upset afterward, pounding his fists on the round.
“We did not play to Alabama’s standard today, I can say that,” Thompson said. “We had a lot of miscues, but I’ll take the blame for that. I didn’t do a good job communicating.”
At halftime, Saban said the defense was confused.
Alabama held Arkansas to a 41-yard field goal in the third quarter.
But in the fourth quarter, the Razorbacks became the first team this season to top 23 points against the Crimson Tide. Wide receiver De’Vion Warren stretched out to grab a 17-yard touchdown pass in the end zone from Storey. Diggs was right behind him. Alabama defensive back Xavier McKinney was nearby. So was Patrick Surtain II, but he was covering a different Arkansas receiver.
Then, with 13 seconds left and just a yard to go, Kelley sucker-punched Alabama with a final Arkansas touchdown run.
“When they scored any touchdown, it was like a heartbreaking thing,” Williams said. “We know they scored that touchdown because of a mistake we made. … We gave them those points basically.”
Arkansas was 5-for-6 in the red zone.
For the second week in a row, an opposing player rushed for more than 100 yards against the Crimson Tide: Running back Rakeem Boyd had 102 yards on the ground. The Razorback finished with 172 rushing yards. Storey completed 25 of his 39 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns.
“But the good news is everything we’re talking about is correctable, all right?” Saban said.
And Alabama knows that, which actually made the in-game sting even worse.
“We just knew we were messing up, we were giving them yards and we were giving up points,” Williams said. “It got kind of frustrating toward the end.”
Reach Terrin Waack at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0229.