Norton Wants Redemption

Arkansas cornerback Jerell Norton has waited to face No. 9 Alabama for the past few months, and for good reason.

Even though Norton had an interception in last year's 41-38 loss at Alabama, he suffered through perhaps the worst game of his career.

Former Alabama wide receiver DJ Hall consistently beat Norton on the deep ball, and the Razorbacks gave up 138 yards passing in the first quarter as the Crimson Tide built a 21-0 lead. Afterward, Norton blamed himself for the loss.

"This game is definitely a game that I've marked on my calendar since last year," Norton said. "With DJ Hall being gone, it still doesn't erase the fact of how I feel like I personally performed in one of the biggest games of my season last year."

Norton has worked his way back into Arkansas' secondary after missing the season opener against Western Illinois because of hernia surgery. He'll likely get considerable work on Saturday in an attempt to slow down Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson.

And considering how things went a year ago, Norton is looking forward to it.

"That game was something that taught me how to grow up as a young man and not take everything for granted," Norton said.



Saban Understands Petrino

Alabama coach Nick Saban has an idea what Bobby Petrino went through in December when he left the Atlanta Falcons during his first season.

A year earlier, Saban was criticized for resigning after two seasons as the Miami Dolphins' coach to take over at Alabama.

While Saban and Petrino have spoken, the two haven't talked about how similar their situations were.

"We never really talked (about that), but we talked at the SEC meetings but not specifically about that," Saban said Wednesday. "You know, there is always going to be a lot of scrutiny in our business and it's difficult sometimes in the circumstances that you're put in.

"There is a lot of tough decisions that you have to make. Bobby is a great coach and a good guy and I'm sure he's going to do a great job and is doing a great job at Arkansas right now."

Petrino has never faced Saban as a head coach, but he was Auburn's offensive coordinator in 2002 when the Tigers beat Saban's LSU team 31-7.



Playing Nice

Nose guard Ernest Mitchell is one of Arkansas' more jovial players, but he wasn't in the mood Wednesday to talk about what happened in last year's game against Alabama.

Mitchell was ejected with around nine minutes left in the 41-38 loss for striking Alabama offensive guard Justin Britt in the face with his own helmet. Mitchell also received a one-game suspension for the penalty.

"I really don't want to discuss that. I'm not thinking about that. That's in the past now," Mitchell said. I'm just looking forward."

Alabama center Antoine Caldwell remembered the incident, though.

"I'm telling you, that was crazy," Caldwell said.



Alma Mater

Arkansas secondary coach Lorenzo Ward knows plenty when it comes to Alabama football.

Ward was a defensive back for the Crimson Tide from 1986-89, making an impact on special teams and winning a Southeastern Conference championship in 1989.

But Saturday's reunion isn't that big of a deal for Ward, who started his coaching career as a graduate assistant for former Alabama coach Gene Stallings in 1991.

"It's good to have an opportunity to coach against (the school) where you played at and we'll cherish the opportunity," Ward said. "But it's just another game."

This isn't the first time Ward has faced his former school. He was the defensive backs coach at Tennessee-Chattanooga in 1994 when the Crimson Tide rolled to a 42-13 win in the season opener.

"That game didn't turn out very well at all," Ward said, smiling.

When asked what he remembered about it, he joked, "Nothing."

Hawgs Daily Top Stories