Observations From Scott Moore
For Arkansas, there was superman Darren Mcfadden in his starring role for the Hogs. And then you had Batman and Robin in the form of Arkansas super-heroes Felix Jones and Peyton Hillis.
The group from Alabama had impressive roles, too. Spiderman played by D.J. Hall and Captain America in junior quarterback John Parker Wilson all involved against one another in a super hero tussle that will be discussed for the next 75 years.
Never has Bryant Denny Stadium seen a better running back than Darren McFadden. And as always in the series with Arkansas, strange things always happen. 'Bama built what seemed an insurmountable lead when Wilson tossed a three-yard TD to Nick Walker late in the third stanza and a comfortable 31-10 lead.
But give the Hogs credit. They scored 28 consecutive points, seized the momentum and took control of the game on McFadden's short TD burst late in the 4th stanza.
In the past 20 games this is where Alabama wilted and eventually lost.
Not this night, not this time. We have heard a lot about 'The fourth quarter program' and how incredibly difficult it is. But on this night, we got to see with our own eyes what off-season conditioning, preparedness, and great coaching can do for a football program.
Despite McFadden's 33 carries and 195 yards, all of Nick Saban's preaching about "being a champion" came to fruition on this incredible night as the metamorphosis of a football program literally came of age.
Coming back to win in the fouth quarter is what Alabama football is all about, but in the past 19 games Alabama has been unable to close.
But on this night, things were different. Ten points scored in the final six minutes to come back and win. Getting the stop on defense on third and 12 when you absolutely had to have it. Down by four points and out of time-outs and nothing less than driving the final 75 yards and scoring a touchdown in a red zone that has been off limits the past three years.
Not this night..
Failure was not an option.
This game was won back in the off-season, Attitudes have been changed, hearts have been turned, Believing that "We have to prepare every day to be a champion. In everything we do, it's about being a champion".
It was all on the line in the fourth quarter. The odds against you. It would have been easy to throw in the towel and just quit and concede when Nick Saban made the decision to kick the field goal and make it Arkansas 38 Alabama 34.
But what Nick Saban did was put his faith and trust in his players. Confident in Leigh Tiffen to go out and knock it through the uprights. Confident in his defense to get that stop. Confident in his offense to win the game with no time-outs left. All three of those things had to happen in that order.
The coach had thought through this scenario long before it had occurred.
"We have complete confidence in the offense with John Parker." Saban said. "We have run the two-minute offense very well all spring and summer. There was no reason to panic. We just needed to go out and execute one final time, and that's exactly what we did."
In addition to the aforementioned heroes we have already discussed. There are a few more who need recognition. The mark of a good football coach is measured much more than wins or losses. Do players get better when they play for a guy like Nick Saban? Does a player become all he is capable of being.
I offer up some evidence to the fact. Darren Mustin made play after play last night until injured and sidelined midway through the second quarter with a shoulder injury. Darren Mustin has gotten better and is becoming a football player who means a lot to his Alabama team. Ezekial Knight has gotten better. Lorenzo Washington has gotten better. Marcus Carter has gotten better.
On Offense Matt Caddell made play after play and has gotten better and has become a difference maker in this his senior year. Mike Johnson and Nick Walker are becoming football players. Glen Coffee is getting better.
And on this night, John Parker Wilson did what all great quarterbacks at Alabama have done. Won the game on the last drive when it had to be done. Coming back and winning a game against a good football team is much more important than blowing out that same team.
Alabama learned something about itself Saturday night that will carry throughout the season. They learned this football team can believe in their head coach, and their head coach believes in them.
"This was a great win for our football team and the State of Alabama," Saban said.
It certainly was in this mind game that is Alabama football. A state of mind meant a lot of things on this Saturday night. The foundation of Alabama football has been built on an extraordinary past. But with this huge win over one of Alabama's most quirky rivals, a foundation for the future was laid in stone.
And so the legend of Nick Saban grows.
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