TUSCALOOSA, Ala - When University of Arkansas redshirt sophomore quarterback Ryan Mallett goes to sleep on Saturday night, he might end up having a nightmare where elephants are charging at him.
He certainly saw more of them than he wanted on Saturday afternoon.
No. 3 Alabama's defense harassed the nation's leading passer into his worst day as a collegian and its offense used big plays to down the Razorbacks 35-7 at Bryant Denny Stadium.
"I am disappointed in our performance," Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino said. "Alabama is a good football team and they do a lot of real good things. They've got good players and they are very well coached, but I am disappointed in the way we played and our execution.
"Really where that shows up is that we didn't really believe that we could come in and win the game," Petrino added matter-of-factly. "When you don't believe you can come in and win the game and drop passes, you don't do the things you have been coached to do, you don't do the things you normally do and you don't set your feet and thrown the ball with conviction."
Petrino expounded on what he saw from Arkansas (1-2, 0-2).
"I just thought we didn't play the way we were capable of playing," Petrino said. "That's on me. I didn't get them to believe we could come in and win the game. I've been around it and I've seen it before, and when you don't do that and utilize your technique, you do different things in the game. We have a lot of work to do to get to be the type of football team we need to be."
Sheppard expressed the same sentiment.
"I think we lacked lacked the confidence to get out there and face them in away territory with crowd," Sheppard said. "I think we lacked confidence, but there is nothing we can do about it now to take it back."
Mallett, who was relieved late in the game by Tyler Wilson, was just 12-of-35 passing for 160 yards with one touchdown and was sacked 3 times and hurried 8 other times.
He also had his first interception this season on a day when his wide receivers certainly didn't help him with a ton of drops.
"I didn't think he played very well," Petrino said of Mallett. "He didn't set his feet. He didn't see things like he saw in the first two games. You can't take anything away from their defense because they are very good. They do a nice job of disguising and hitting their blitzes when they are supposed to, but he's very capable of playing a lot better than that."
Arkansas was just 2-of-14 on third-down conversions during the game.
"I think that is a real key against a team like this to keep them from moving down the field," Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. "We gave a lot of different looks, played a lot of odd stuff, dropped 8 guys sometimes, rushed four guys and then rushed another four guys. We played a little more zone today than we maybe normally would. Basically I think we did a pretty good job of executing what we did and had pretty close coverage for the most part."
Back-up Tyler Wilson (4-of-6, 31 yards) entered the game late with the Bama defense knocking him down a trio of times as well for good measure.
"Some of the things that we did today were not conventional," Saban said. "We would try to play cover 2 and rush the inside backer and do some things a little bit different so he (Mallett) wasn't always getting middle of the coverage and just throw it up on the corner."
The Razorbacks gained just 63 yards rushing on 26 attempts with Michael Smith's 12 totes for 61 yards leading the way.
Joe Adams had 6 catches for 81 yards and Greg Childs 4 receptions for 60 yards for the visiting team.
"Bobby is a great offensive coach," Saban said. "Kirby Smart is the defensive coach here and did a fantastic job getting our players ready to play in this game. He did a great job today, calling the game, putting the plan together, teaching the players and all that."
Alabama (4-0, 1-0) got solid quarterback play from Greg McElroy (17-of-24 passing for 291 yards, 3 TDs) as the Crimson Tide rolled up a 425-254 difference in total offense.
"We did not play our best game offensively," Saban said. "We struggled and 96 (Malcolm Sheppard) is a really good player. We did not run the ball as efficiently as we had in the past. And when I say efficiently I am talking about plus four yard runs. There were a lot of negative gains, too many zero gainers and one-yard, two-yard plays that got us behind in down and distance.
"We need a nice job of overcoming it, made some big plays and scored enough to get the win - which is always the most important thing," Saban added. "...We did do a great job on special teams today."
The Arkansas defense actually fared very well during the first half – except for two back-to-back plays for the home team in the second quarter and both resulted in scores.
Trent Richardson ripped off a 52-yard touchdown run on which he broke four tackles and Leigh Tiffin's ensuing PAT put the Crimson Tide up 7-0 at the 9:30 mark.
Once Alabama got the ball back, a little razzle dazzle was in order.
Running back Terry Grant took the direct snap, handed off and it eventually resulted in a pitch to McElroy – who had been split out wide right.
McElroy then threw a pass to Julio Jones, a play that resulted in a 50-yard score with Jones shaking off Tramain Thomas to get into the end zone.
"We worked hard on the wildcat," Petrino said. "We had certain things going we were going to get to when they did it. They made a nice play. It wasn't a great throw. We could have had better effort and got there and knocked it down. That is kind of an effort play. We didn't have good enough effort on that play."
Tiffin's PAT made it 14-0 with 6:55 remaining in the half.
"If you watch TV, you have probably seen that before," Saban said. "I think (the) Miami (Dolphins)scored a couple of touchdowns on that last year. We tossed it back to the quarterback and throw it. It was a play we were going to run in the first half no matter what and the situation at midfield was a good time to do it."
"I really thought in the first half our defense played well," Petrino said. "They did a nice job of tackling, except for that long run, and that was a heck of a run."
That's what it would stay until the start of the third quarter when Arkansas held Alabama on its initial possession and finally saw paydirt itself.
The 6-play, 55-yard drive was highlighted by Mallett's 23-yard pass to D.J. Williams and then his 18-yard scoring toss to Childs.
Alex Tejada added the extra point and suddenly the lead was cut in half 14-7 with 10:45 showing in the third quarter.
The Crimson Tide responded quick – a 1-play, 80-yard drive as Marquis Maze beat Rudell Crim and hauled in a pass from McElroy.
Tiffin was true again for a 21-7 advantage just 20 seconds after the Razorbacks finally grabbed some momentum.
"Even if you don't complete those passes, you have to throw them," Saban said. "We should throw them more than we throw them because it keeps the coverage off of you."
Arkansas moved the ball again on its next possession, but then stalled out and saw Alabama block Breeding's punt and took over that at the Hogs' 35.
"I didn't think it deflated us, but it was a great call and a well-executed play," Petrino said. "Rudell was right there, but he just didn't get his hands between the guy's hands. We've got to be able to answer. That's the thing we didn't do that we did a week ago (in a 52-41 loss to Georgia). That's up to the offense to answer and get us back to 21-14."
Instead it resulted in McElroy's 14-yard TD pass to Ingram and Bama was in complete control at 28-7 with 5:53 showing in the third quarter.
It became 35-7 when Ingram raced in from 2 yards out to cap a 13-play, 99-yard drive that began near the end of the third quarter.
Ingram easily scored with 13:12 left in the game as Alabama defensive star Terrence Cody (6-5, 354) lined up at fullback and led the way.
Arkansas will face Texas A&M next Saturday night in a 6:30 p.m. game dubbed the Southwest Classic at the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
"It's a football season so we are going to get ready every week," Mallett said. "We have to get ready to win and that is what we will start tomorrow."
Dennis Johnson returned a kickoff 52 yards in one of the Arkansas highlights.
D.J. Wiliams gets separated from the ball
Greg Childs goes up for a pass.
Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy
Marquis Maze hauls in what turns into a 80-yard TD pass from McElroy as Rudell Crim defends.
No. 3 Alabama 35, Arkansas 7
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