Game notes: Alabama defeats Arkansas

Alabama's Julio Jones Photo by UA

Alabama's Julio Jones Photo by UA

Here are game notes from the Arkansas media relations and Alabama media relations:
POST-GAME NOTES
ALABAMA vs. ARKANSAS
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Bryan-Denny Stadium – Tuscaloosa, Ala.

McELROY TO MAZE 80-YARD TD PLAY TIES FOR 6TH-LONGEST PASS TD IN U.A. HISTORY
Sophomore receiver Marquis Maze took a Greg McElroy pass for an 80-yard touchdown play, a career-long pass catch for Maze and a career-long pass play for McElroy, giving Alabama a 21-7 lead with 10:25 left in the third quarter. The play ties for the sixth-longest touchdown pass in Alabama history and the longest since 2003.

LONGEST TOUCHCDOWN PASSES IN ALABAMA HISTORY
94 Freddie Kitchens to Michael Vaughn vs. Florida 1996
90 Jeff Dunn to Pierre Goode vs. Tennessee 1987
87 Albert Elmore to Bobby Luna vs. Tulsa 1954
87 Brodie Croyle to Zach Fletcher vs. Mississippi State 2003
85 Gary Rutledge to Joe Dale Harris vs. California 1973
81 Ken Coley to Joey Jones vs. Vanderbilt 1981
80 Gary Rutledge to Wayne Wheeler vs. Tennessee 1973
80 Walter Lewis to Jesse Bendross vs. Mississippi 1982
80 Greg McElroy to Marquis Maze vs. Arkansas 2009

RICHARDSON BREAKS 4 TACKLES ON LONG TD RUN
Freshman running back Trent Richardson’s breathtaking 52-yard run for a touchdown gave Alabama a 7-0 lead with 9:30 remaining in the second quarter. Richardson broke free from four different would-be tacklers early in the run, and then dodged a fifth defender at the goal line to complete the play. Richardson rushed for 65 yards on 9 carries (7.2 yards per carry) and one touchdown.

BAMA SCORES ON BIG PLAYS
Alabama’s first three touchdowns against Arkansas occurred on plays of longer than 50 yards – a 52-yard run by Trent Richardson, a 50-yard pass from Greg McElroy to Julio Jones, and a 80-yard pass from McElroy to Marquis Maze. Those plays accounted for 182 of Alabama’s 287 total yards through the midway point of the third quarter.

PRESSURE YIELDS QUARTERBACK SACKS
The Alabama defense used a variety of blitzes to increase pressure on Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett and that plan yielded 3 quarterback sacks (28 yards), 8 tackles for losses (54 yards), and 6 quarterback hurries. After garnering 10 sacks (5 vs. Virginia Tech, 5 vs. Florida International), Alabama did not get a sack in last week’s 53-7 win over North Texas. With 12 sacks through 4 games this season, Alabama is almost halfway to equaling its 2008 total of 26 sacks (in 14 games).

ARENAS GETS 2 SACKS
Senior cornerback Javier Arenas produced 2 quarterback sacks for 21 yards in losses, both in the first half against Arkansas, marking his first multi-sack game at Alabama. Arenas’ first three tackles of the game each yielded losses for a total of 25 yards.

UPCHURCH RETURNS TO ACTION
Senior running back Roy Upchurch returned to action Saturday against Arkansas after sitting out the North Texas game with an injury. Upchurch did not have a rushing attempt, but had 3 receptions for 30 yards.

JONES BACK IN THE LINEUP – CATCHES TD PASS
Sophomore receiver Julio Jones returned to action Saturday against Arkansas after missing the North Texas game due to an injury and caught 2 passes for 65 yards and 1 touchdown. Jones extended Alabama’s lead to 14-0 in the second quarter on a 50-yard pass from Greg McElroy, Jones’ first scoring catch of the season. The play began with Alabama in the “Wildcat” formation with a direct snap to running back Mark Ingram, who handed the ball to running back Terry Grant on a reverse. Grant then pitched the ball back to McElroy who fired the pass down the middle of the field to a wide-open Jones. It is Jones’ first touchdown reception in 12 games dating back to the Georgia game in 2008.

McELROY REMAINS ACCURATE, ENJOYS CAREER-HIGH YARDAGE OUTING
Junior quarterback Greg McElroy achieved a single-game best against Arkansas by passing for 291 yards while completing 17-of-24 attempts for 3 touchdowns without an interception. McElroy has now gone 81 pass attempts without throwing an interception through the Arkansas game, having completed 63-of-93 (67.7 percent) of his passes on the season for 938 yards and seven touchdowns with one interception. The junior has won his last 20 starts at quarterback, going 16-0 as a high school senior in 2005 and 4-0 for the Tide in 2009.

THE ALABAMA-ARKANSAS SERIES
With Saturday’s victory, Alabama leads the series with Arkansas by a 12-8 margin. The Tide has won three straight in the series and four of the last five contests. Alabama has a 5-4 record against the Razorbacks at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

SABAN IMPROVES TO 6-2 VS. ARKANSAS
With the win on Saturday, Alabama head coach Nick Saban is 6-2 in his head coaching career against Arkansas. Saban was 3-2 against the Razorbacks while the head coach at LSU (2000-04), winning in 2001, 2003 and 2004. He is 3-0 against Arkansas at Alabama, winning 41-38 in 2007 and 49-14 in 2008 prior to Saturday’s victory.

Nick Saban vs. Arkansas
Year Result
2000 Arkansas 14, LSU 3
2001 LSU 41, Arkansas 38
2002 Arkansas 21, LSU 20
2003 LSU 55, Arkansas 24
2004 LSU 43, Arkansas 13
2007 Alabama 41, Arkansas 38
2008 Alabama 49, Arkansas 14
2009 Alabama 35, Arkansas 7

SABAN’S 23-8 MARK RANKS AMONG BEST COACHING STARTS IN ALABAMA HISTORY
With the win over Arkansas, Alabama head coach Nick Saban has compiled a 23-8 record in his career with the Tide and the 23 wins rank in a tie for the fourth-most for any Crimson Tide head football coach after 31 games. Xen Scott and Bill Curry also posted 23 wins through their first 31 games with the Crimson Tide. Wallace Wade holds the record for most wins after 31 games with 27 victories. Frank Thomas is second with 26 wins in 31 games while Gene Stallings third with 25. Below are the most wins by Alabama coaches after the first 31 games in their career.

Most Wins (After 31 Games)
Wallace Wade 27
Frank Thomas 26
Gene Stallings 25
Xen Scott 23
Bill Curry 23
Nick Saban 23

ALABAMA WINS 18TH STRAIGHT SEC OPENER – IMPROVES TO 50-20-4 IN SEC OPENERS
With the win over Arkansas on Saturday, Alabama has posted a 50-20-4 record in Southeastern Conference openers dating back to the league’s inception in 1933. The Crimson Tide has won 18 straight SEC openers dating back to the 1992 season. The streak began with a 25-8 win over Vanderbilt on Sept. 5, 1992. The 18-game winning streak includes 12 wins over Vanderbilt (1992-2001, 2006-07), two wins against Arkansas (2002 & 2008) and one win against Kentucky (2003), Mississippi (2004) and South Carolina (2005). The last time Alabama lost an SEC opener was Sept. 14, 1991, when Florida beat Alabama, 35-0, in Gainesville. The 18-game winning streak in SEC openers is the longest streak in school history and the longest active streak in the SEC.

ALABAMA’S SEC OPENERS BY OPPONENT
Alabama has played SEC openers against 10 current members of the SEC, with rival Auburn as the lone exception. Saturday’s game marked the third time overall ­- and the second year in a row – that Alabama has opened SEC play with the Arkansas Razorbacks. Alabama opened SEC play with 30-12 win at Arkansas in 2002 and a 49-14 win in 2008, with both games being played in Fayetteville. Alabama has played 21 SEC openers against the Vanderbilt, the most of any conference team. The Tide has also met Mississippi 10 times and Georgia eight times to open league play since 1933.

SEC Openers by Opponent (Since 1933)
Opponent Record Last Meeting
Auburn 0-0 Never Met
Arkansas 3-0 Alabama 35, Arkansas 7 in Tuscaloosa, Sept. 26, 2009
Florida 2-3 Florida 35, Alabama 0 in Gainesville, Sept. 14, 1991
Georgia 6-2 Alabama 20, Georgia 16 in Athens, Sept. 2, 1985
Kentucky 3-0 Alabama 15, Kentucky 3 in Tuscaloosa, Sept. 23, 1989
LSU 4-1-2 Alabama 24, LSU 7 in Baton Rouge, Sept. 5, 1981
Mississippi St. 2-2 Alabama 21, Mississippi St. 6 in Tuscaloosa, Oct. 3, 1942
Mississippi 8-2 Alabama 40, Mississippi 0 in Tuscaloosa, Sept. 17, 1983
South Carolina 1-0 Alabama 37, S. Carolina 14 in Columbia, Sept. 17, 2005
Tennessee 0-3 Tennessee 27, Alabama 12 in Birmingham, Oct. 19, 1040
Vanderbilt 18-3-1 Alabama 24, Vanderbilt 10 in Nashville, Sept. 8, 2007

GAME CAPTAINS
Today’s game captains for Alabama were senior left tackle Mike Johnson, junior running back Terry Grant and junior linebacker Rolando McClain. Arkansas won the toss and elected to receive the opening kickoff. Alabama chose to defend the South end zone.

NEXT GAME
Alabama will play its first true road game of the 2009 season on Saturday, Oct. 3, when the Crimson Tide visits Kentucky’s Commonwealth Stadium. The kickoff is scheduled for 11:21 a.m. (CDT) and will be televised by the SEC Network with Dave Neal, Andre Ware and Cara Capuano calling the action. Alabama leads the all-time series with Kentucky by a 34-2-1 margin following a hard-fought 17-14 win in Tuscaloosa last season. Saturday’s visit will mark the Crimson Tide’s first visit to Kentucky since the 2004 season when the Tide posted a 45-17 win.

Arkansas Team Notes
Arkansas held Alabama scoreless in the first quarter on three possessions. Prior to today’s game, Alabama had scored on eight of its 10 first-quarter possessions.

The Razorbacks are averaging 14.0 (21, 21, 0) points per game in the first quarter this season. Last year the Hogs averaged just 4.6 points per game in the first and did not score their first first-quarter-touchdown until game seven.

The Razorbacks converted their first fake punt of the season, a nine-yard run by Ronnie Wingo Jr.

Joe Adams is the third Razorback receiver to lead the Hogs in receiving in three games this season (Jarius Wright 6-139 vs. Missouri St.; Greg Childs 5-140 vs. Georgia).

Arkansas’ first scoring drive went five plays for 55 yards and consumed 2:17 on the clock culminating in an 18-yard pass from Ryan Mallett to Greg Childs. It was the eighth touchdown drive of the season for Arkansas that took less than three minutes.

Arkansas is now 8-12 against Alabama all-time.

Arkansas is +2 in turnover margin this season. Last season the Razorbacks were -9.

The Razorbacks were 1-2 on fourth-down conversions. On the year the Hogs are 5-7.

Arkansas is 2-1 in coin tosses this season. Arkansas is 1-1 when it wins the coin toss.

Arkansas Individual Notes
Ryan Mallett was 4-9 in the first quarter for 30 yards. On the year he is 15-23 in the first quarter for 291 yards and three touchdown passes.

Ryan Mallett was 12-35 for 160 yards and one touchdown passes on the day. He now has nine touchdown passes in three games this season. It is his first sub 300-yard passing game as a Razorback. Mallett threw his first interception of the year in the fourth quarter ending a 95-pass streak from the beginning of the 2009 season.

Tyler Wilson entered the game at quarterback in the fourth quarter and went 4-6 for 31 yards.

Michael Smith led the Razorbacks in rushing with 12 carries for 61 yards. It is the second straight game he has led the Hogs in rushing this season.

D.J. Williams made his first catch in the third quarter, a 23-yard catch and run which led to the Razorbacks’ first touchdown of the game.

Adrian Davis recorded Arkansas’ only sack of the game, a two-yard loss in the third quarter.

Alex Tejada remains perfect on the year going 1-1 on extra-point tries. He is now 4-4 on field goal attempts and 12-12 on extra-point opportunities.

Joe Adams led the Razorbacks in receiving on the day with six catches for 81 yards. Adams has a catch in 15-straight games (every game of his career).

Greg Childs made Arkansas’ touchdown reception giving him three on the season, a total that leads Arkansas’ receiving group.

Anthony Oden made his first start as a Razorback. He is the first true freshman to start on the offensive line since Shawn Andrews started in 2001. Both Oden and Andrews made their first starts at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Dylan Breeding punted nine times for 358 yards and an average of 39.8, all are career highs. His 52-yard punt is a career long and was his third 50-yard punt of the season. Breeding also put three punts inside the 20-yard line including one inside the one.

Dennis Johnson’s 52-yard kick return is his second longest of the season. Johnson is averaging 34.7 yards per return this year.

Arkansas Game Notes
Arkansas’ captains were DeMarcus Love, Ryan Mallett, Malcolm Sheppard and Michael Smith. This is the second straight game those four individuals represented Arkansas prior to kickoff.