Stuart McNair

Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans was called for questionable penalty

Rashaan Evans was the real victim in judgment call at Arkansas

In Alabama’s 49-30 win over Arkansas in Fayetteville Saturday, Crimson Tide inside linebacker Reuben Foster suffered an apparent concussion and had to leave the game. Alabama Coach Nick Saban indicated he expected Foster to be back in practice this week for Bama’s game at Tennessee.

First ranked Alabama (6-0) will take on No. 9 Tennessee (5-1) at 3:30 p.m. EDT (2:30 central) with CBS televising.

When Foster went out, that meant more playing time for linebacker Rashaan Evans, and Evans had a solid game, 7 tackles including sharing in a sack, and two quarterback pressures.

But the play for which Evans was most noticed in Fayetteville was a surprising roughing the passer penalty. It was one of five penalties against Alabama that resulted in first downs for the Razorbacks.

Midway through the third quarter, with Alabama leading 42-17 and the Razorbacks facing second and 10 at their 46, Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen was sacked by Evans. Evans had beaten the blocker, but lost his balance and was scrambling for the quarterback, finally getting him around his shins and dropping him for an apparent 10-yard loss.

But there was a surprise in the form of a yellow flag. Evans was called for roughing the passer.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban was asked about the penalty Monday. Here is his explanation:

“I think player safety is really important and I don't think the guys would want them to do it on our quarterback, and we certainly don't coach our guys to do it to the opposing team's quarterback when you just have a free shot at the quarterback and you hit them low, in the knee area.

“But when a guy's being blocked, pushed in the back or scrambling toward the quarterback, it's supposed to be a judgment call as to whether the guy went low on the guy intentionally, had an opportunity to stay up, or didn't have an opportunity to stay up.

“I'm not criticizing the officials. I just thought that the guy (Evans) beat the guy (offensive tackle) around the edge and lowered his shoulder and was getting pushed and was off balance and it wasn't an intentional thing.

“But that's a judgment call and we're certainly going to have to live with the call. It's just like the manager that goes out in baseball. Did you ever see a manager come out in baseball and argue the call and the umpire changed the call? No. You're trying to get it right the next time. You're just trying to make sure they get it right the next time. That's kind of how it is.”

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