"On offense you can make a couple of mistakes and punt. You can't punt it on defense," Alabama defensive coordinator Joe Kines said. "If you break one (assignment) that referee is throwing his hands up in the air before you know it."
"They blocked and that thing creased and he was gone," Kines said. "It's like, ‘Your car's faster than my car.' They can run.
"It's like playing Russian roulette, it only takes one of those bullets to kill you. It doesn't take eight bullets to kill you."
Arkansas started at the Tide 40 in the first quarter and was forced to punt after three plays. They pinned Bama at the one, and as a result began their next drive on the Alabama 44 yard line. The Hogs managed 27 yards and a field goal for their first points on that drive.
"We were kind of backed up the whole first half and we held them," Alabama nickelback Simeon Castille said, who finished with seven tackles including two for loss, a forced fumble and a pass break up. "That gave us confidence. It was a good test for us."
The final exam for the Bama D' came after a blocked punt set Arkansas up at the Tide 11 yard line early in the fourth quarter.
"We knew what we had to do. We had to have them kick," Kines said. "We would have liked to keep the from the field goal but we had to make them kick."
Bama almost avoided any points at all. On a third down play it looked like Wallace Gilberry forced a turnover when he knocked the ball loose from quarterback Robert Johnson and DeMeco Ryans recovered it and took the ball out near midfield.
But a side judge on the Arkansas sideline had been waving his hands and blowing his whistle since just before the snap. An Arkansas wide receiver started the play too early, resulting in a dead-ball foul and nullifying the presumed turnover.
"We played as wide open on those three plays as anyone can play," Kines said. "Thank God for these kids. That's a good offensive team. Y'all can believe what you want."
The stands by the defense begged the question. How good is Bama's defense?
"We ain't nowhere near good enough to worry about how good we are yet," Kines responded.
It's true there is potential on Alabama's defense to be better, and for the unit to score as many points as it has give up. The ball game was on the tips of their fingers several times. Freddie Roach mishandled three would-be interception, and Ramzee Robinson and Charlie Peprah had shots at what would have been highlight reel picks.
The defense eventually came through with a Juwan Simpson interception late in the game that set the Tide up for its final touchdown, enabling the squad to laugh off the misses.
"Juwan made a super play on the interception," Kines said.
Said Ryans, "We joke on (the players who drop passes), especially Freddie. He's dropped about two a game. We joke but we also realize we have to capitalize on those plays more often. That's something we have to do better." I thought DeMeco Ryans rushed the passer great all day.
"It's kind of like a batter in a slump," Kines said of Roach's butter fingers. "But nobody feels worse than he does."