Alabama's impressive defense ensured the sophomore won't hold that title this week.
Mallett suffered through a rocky outing in Arkansas' 35-7 loss in Bryant-Denny Stadium. The strong-armed quarterback completed 12 of 35 passes for 160 yards, one touchdown and one interception before leaving the game late in the fourth quarter.
His performance was the opposite of Arkansas' Southeastern Conference opener against Georgia last Saturday, when Mallett set school records for passing yards (408) and touchdowns (five). And the first two games of his Arkansas career in which Mallett made Arkansas' passing attack one of the nation's best.
"I didn't think he played very well," Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said. "He didn't set his feet. He didn't see things like he saw in the previous 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 the blitzes when they're supposed to. But he's very capable of playing a lot better than that."
Arkansas had hoped to flourish against Alabama's secondary — which was untested in its first three games — behind Mallett's arm. He had garnered national attention after his play in the Georgia loss, but simply struggled to complete passes Saturday.
"We made their quarterback move in the pocket and that, probably as much as anything, made him feel uncomfortable," Alabama coach Nick Saban said.
Alabama did create problems with a pass rush that registered three sacks. Arkansas' receivers didn't help matters, dropping several passes. But Petrino said Mallett also struggled with his technique Saturday.
"He didn't get his feet set," Petrino said. "He's throwing flat-footed. He wasn't setting, transferring his weight. That really hurt his accuracy."
Mallett completed just 7 of 21 passes for 74 yards in the first half and his biggest play was a 19-yard completion to receiver Joe Adams.
But he put together his best series after the break, going 3-for-3 to lead Arkansas into the end zone. His 18-yard touchdown pass to receiver Greg Childs cut Alabama's lead to 14-7 early in the third quarter.
"We felt good," Mallett said. "I don't know what happened after that. ... We just lost it."
Mallett was 2-for-11 the rest of the way and didn't complete his final nine passes. That included his first interception midway through the fourth quarter.
It ended Mallett's night, but defensive tackle Malcolm Sheppard said the quarterback will bounce back.
"I know Mallett," Sheppard said. "He's a confident guy. He's going to respond from this."
Mallett backed up Sheppard's statement, saying his confidence isn't damaged by the poor performance.
"Never going to hurt my confidence," Mallett said. "I'm going to keep it up and the rest of the team is the same way. We didn't play well. We know it.
"We're going to come back ready to go."
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