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Arkansas Grades
Posted by Woody Woodruff on Monday October 21 2013 @ 05:53PM CDT
[ The Commissioner's Blog ]
Did you know that there are three recommended way to roast a whole hog? It's true. According to the National Pork Board, of Des Moines, Iowa, you can roast a pig on a grill, on a rotisserie, or in a pit you dig in the ground.

The Pork Board offers some good advice to those contemplating the prospect of roasting a pig: "Order your pig from a specialty meat packer, grocery story or local locker." Makes sense."It is often necessary to give them 7 days advance notice" Check. "Before purchasing make sure the pig is absolutely clean." Whoa! I didn't see that one coming.

No doubt you have seen those hi-tech hog-cooking rigs. Some of them are so big they are motorized. If you decide to go the low-tech route for your porcine cuisine, the Pork Board has this handy suggestion: "Dig a hole two feet deep and five to seven feet wide."

There was some hole digging on display Saturday night in Tuscaloosa. The Alabama running game dug a trench straight to the Arkansas end zone while AJ McCarron and the Tide receivers lit up the Hogs with a precision passing game. Not to be outdone, the Tide defense stuffed the Pigs, holding them scoreless for the second straight year.

So, it turns out there is yet a fourth way to roast hogs: put them in a football game against Alabama.

The Tide was utterly ruthless in all phases of the game. For the second week in a row, Alabama had two running backs rush for more than 100 yards. In all of Tide history, that has been accomplished only 17 times. Fully 25% of those times have come in the last 9 contests. For the sixth time this season, the Defense held an opponent to 10 or fewer points. By way of comparison, in the entire 2012 season, Alabama held 7 opponents to 10 or fewer points. In 2011 the total was nine opponents. This team is well positioned to eclipse that mark.

Saturday night's 52-0 roasting of the Razorbacks was not the result of playing the starting rotation the entire game. AJ's work was over mid-way through the third quarter, and when the Tide defense held the Arkansas starters on downs late in the fourth to preserve the shut out, there were only a couple of players on the field whose names were included in the three-deep handy-reference card.

Alabama's performance was more than just scoring a half-hundred points. It is also the zeros that are remarkable. Zero points allowed. Zero interceptions. Zero fumbles. Zero penalties. A single punt and a failure to convert on fourth down are the only blemishes that keep it from being a perfect game.

Three seasons ago, an ancient time when the iPhone 4 had yet to make its debut, Arkansas was arguably one of the best teams in the country. It was certainly one of the top three in the SEC West. But since Bobby Petrino's infamous joy ride on-what else?-a Hawg, the combined score of Arkansas-Alabama games is a staggering 102-0. Put another way, in the last two seasons, Alabama has roasted enough Pigs to supply every tailgate tent on the Quad with a season's worth of pulled pork.

Here's how I grade the game:

Offense: A+ Alabama earned 25 first downs [15 rushing], and gained 532 yards of total offense [352 rushing] converting 5 of 9 possession downs.

AJ completed 15 of 21 pass attempts for 180 yards and 3 touchdowns. He was not sacked. His favorite target was TJ Yeldon, who caught 4 passes for 45 yards. Amari Cooper seems to be returning to pre-injury form. The exciting sophomore caught 3 passes for 65 yards and a TD. Christion Jones caught 3 balls for 20 yards and O.J. Howard had a 17 yard TD catch. Jalston Fowler made the most of his lone pass-catching opportunity scoring a TD from 5 yards out; the same play on which he dropped the pass in last week's game. Eight different players caught passes.

True freshman, Derrick Henry gained 111 yards on 6 carries and scored a TD on an 80 yard run. It is really amazing to watch someone that big [6-3, 235] run that fast. I wonder if he generates seismic waves detectable across campus in the geology lab. Kenyan Drake ran for 104 yards on 8 carries and scored 2 rushing touchdowns.TJ Yeldon added 88 yards and a TD on 12 runs.

Alabama had six drives that gained 40 or more yards [68, 84, 72, 72, 67, 85] producing 5 TDs and a loss of possession on downs. The Tide's 10 offensive possessions generated 7 TDs, 1FG, a punt and a loss on downs.

Defense: A+ Arkansas was limited to only 16 first downs and 91 passing yards. The Hogs gained 165 yards rushing, however, and converted 6 of 15 third downs. The occasional failure to get off the field on third down might warrant a slight downgrade, but the defense earned the + with its two interceptions [Ha Ha Clinton-Dix; Cyrus Jones] 5 pass breakups and 11 QB hurries.

CJ Mosley led all defenders with 10 tackles 2 breakups and 2 hurries. Jarrick Williams was credited with 6 tackles. Landon Collins and Clinton-Dix each made 5.

Arkansas had 9 meaningful possessions in the game, which produced 4 punts, 2 interceptions, a blocked FG, a fumbled kick return and a turn-over on downs.

Special Teams

Punting: A+ Cody Mandell only punted once-that counted-for 51 yards a no return. His second punt attempt, which was downed at the Arkansas 1 yard line, was nullified by an Arkansas roughing penalty.

Kickoffs: A+ Alabama's kickers averaged 62.4 yards per kick and the coverage unit achieved a net of 42.6 yards/kick. Christion Jones returned Arkansas' single kickoff 32 yards to start the game.

Place Kicking: A+ Cade Foster was good from 48 yards on his single FG attempt and the Tide's place kickers were perfect on PATs. Alabama blocked Arkansas' lone FG attempt.

Coaching: A+ The participation report lists 70 players who saw action against Arkansas. The ball security and concentration issues that plagued Alabama last week against Kentucky were nowhere in sight Saturday night as Tide runners secured the ball "high and tight" and receivers held onto well thrown passes. And it bears repeating: Alabama was not penalized a single time in the game.

Apart from Alabama, October 19 was "Upset Saturday" for every SEC team that entered their respective games as the Las Vegas betting favorite. A future Tide opponent-LSU-lost on a last second field goal to a former opponent-Ole Miss, while a former opponent-A&M lost to future opponent Auburn. Non opponent-Vandy-effectively eliminated another SEC East rival-UGA-from having a chance to be an opponent. And non-opponent, Florida, was soundly whipped by just-might-be opponent Missouri.

The team that matters most, Tennessee, looked a little like the Vols of yesteryear by clawing back to win the fourth quarter, and the game, upsetting South Carolina 23-21. In The Daily Fishwrapper, columnist David Climer has declared UT's conquest of the Fighting Chickens to be a "signature win" by first-year coach, Butch Jones.

Personally, I would not have it any other way. No fans get unrealistically optimistic faster than Tennessee fans. Some are devising the scenario that gets Tennessee into the SEC Championship Game-spoiler alert: it involves Georgia and Florida both losing the Cocktail Party, and a secret witness convincing the NCAA that both Missouri and Vanderbilt are ineligible because having two people named James Franklin is like having two players wearing the same number on the field for the same play.

Look for Tennessee fans by the bus load to start arriving in Tuscaloosa as soon as Monday. For those readers in T'town: please exercise sensible precautions. Avoid direct contact with anyone wearing orange. You don't know where they have been, or what they have been doing. Remember what the Pork Board cautioned about making sure your pig was "absolutely clean." The same advice applies when it comes to visitors from Rocky Top. If you think I am exaggerating, just listen to the lyrics of that song. Don't say I didn't warn you.

The Commissioner

< Kentucky Grades | Tennessee Grades >

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