FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – A barrage of big plays in the passing game battered the Arkansas defense. Alabama’s quarterbacks pinpointed 14 of 18 passes. The receivers and tight ends kept rolling after the catch for long touchdowns. The offensive line didn’t give up a sack all day.
The Alabama offense finished the day with a season-high 639 total yards and 58 points against the Razorbacks. The defense supplied the other seven points, on an interception returned for a touchdown by Shyheim Carter.
“We made a lot of explosive plays,” coach Nick Saban said. “We didn’t have a lot of pressure on the quarterback. I thought we did a really good job.”
Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa finished the day 10 of 13 passing for 334 yards with four touchdowns. Jalen Hurts added 59 yards on four completions to bring the total to 393 passing yards on the day. The running game kept Arkansas’ defense playing on its heels, finishing with 246 yards on the ground.
“I think we had a really productive day on offense,” running back Damien Harris said. “We threw the ball well, we ran the ball well. It starts with the O-line, they did a tremendous job today of pass protection and the run game.”
Tight end Irv Smith Jr. made a dent in the defense early with two receptions for 123 yards and a touchdown. He had a 76-yard catch-and-run on Alabama’s first play from scrimmage for his score. Smith was on his way to a second touchdown when he fumbled the ball 12 yards shy of the end zone on the second drive, but it was scooped up by Henry Ruggs III for a score.
Wide receiver Jerry Jeudy made a major impact as well. He had four catches for 135 yards and two touchdowns to give him eight on the season. He’s now tied for fifth place in school history for touchdown receptions in a season.
Jeudy gave Alabama another big-play score when he caught a slant and took it 60 yards for a one-play touchdown drive in the second quarter.
“When I caught the ball, I saw I had a lot of room,” he said. “Once I had that room, I just burst and ran away from the defender. … The placement was the right placement. It gave me a chance to catch and run. Instead of having to stop and catch it behind me, it gave me a chance to catch and run. That helps a lot.”
Alabama also used a package that featured both Tagovailoa and Hurts at the same time. It was only a couple of plays, but Saban said there are “a few more things we were going to do out of it.” The Razorbacks seemed surprised enough when it made its brief appearance.
“They showed a lot of confusion,” Harris said. “They didn’t know what was going on. They were expecting double passes. They were trying to call out what we were going to do and nobody really had any idea. It’s kind of good to have them on their toes. It’s just another dimension of our offense.”
Tagovailoa played one series in the third quarter and again sat the fourth quarter out as Alabama finished off the blowout. Alabama finished with as many incompletions (four) as touchdown passes.
“I think that anytime you can get all those guys, all those playmakers involved, it means you can’t really focus on one group,” offensive tackle Jonah Williams said. “I think that creates matchup issues for the defenses. (Arkansas has) a good defense, a great defensive coordinator who has been in the league for forever. It just becomes difficult to defend when you have so many receivers, tight ends, running backs that can make plays on the ball and an o-line that can do its job.”
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