TUSCALOOSA, Ala.— Julio Jones and Roy Upchurch both made significant contributions in their return from injuries suffered two weeks earlier against Florida International.
Jones, who bruised a knee, caught two passes for 65 yards including a 50-yarder that went for the game’s second touchdown. The star receiver said he was healthy enough to play last week against North Texas, but never entered the game.
Upchurch didn’t appear to show any effects of the high ankle sprain suffered two weeks earlier. He was the third option for Alabama at running back behind Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson.
The senior did not get any rushes, but his three catches left him tied for the team-high with Ingram. His 13-yard reception in the third quarter gave Alabama one of its six third-down conversions.
Tide turns Wildcat loose
For most of the past two Saturday’s, the Alabama version of the Wildcat offense was dormant.
Only once did it pull out the new wrinkle since running it nine times in the season-opener against Virginia Tech. The 50-yard touchdown pass from Greg McElroy to Jones by way of Ingram and Terry Grant was another first for the formation nicknamed the Wild Tide.
Alabama had never passed from the Wildcat in its earlier attempts and did not have much success on the ground.
Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said his team worked hard to prepare for the Wildcat although Alabama hadn’t run it recently.
“We had certain things that we were going to get to when they did it,” Petrino said. “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 the play.”
Clouds clear for kickoff
For the second straight week, pregame festivities were dampened, or soaked, by drenching downpours.
The first cloudburst came right around noon, more than two hours before kickoff. The second came at 1 p.m. and lasted through player warmups. However, as if on cue, the sun poked through the clouds in the final moments before kickoff.
The weather led to another late-arriving crowd that was listed close to capacity at 92,012.
Targets on the backs
Running backs remain Greg McElroy’s favorite target in the fourth game as starting quarterback.
Backs Ingram and Upchurch shared the top spot Saturday with three catches apiece for 21 and 30 yards respectively. Ingram’s three catches will keep him atop the team leaders list for the season with 13.
Tiffin’s kicking is perfect
Tide kicker Leigh Tiffin’s kicking issues did not carry over from last week.
The Muscle Shoals, Ala., product was perfect on all five extra point attempts, although, his final attempt knuckled through the uprights. He missed a pair of 20-yarders following touchdowns last week against North Texas.
Saturday’s game was the first without a field goal attempt for the senior. Tiffin converted 8-of-10 attempts in the first three games of the season
McClain adds to tackle total
Rolando McClain, the team’s leading tackler entering the game, finished the afternoon with five tackles including one for a loss. Four of his stops came in the first quarter.
McClain was a captain for the third time in four games along with Grant and Mike Johnson.
Earlier in the week, Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino promised his team’s 25 percent success rate on third down would improve by season’s end.
Saturday’s result won’t help.
The Tide defense surrendered first downs on just two of the 12 times Arkansas faced third downs. The Razorbacks are now 8-for-34 or 23.5 percent on third downs.
Alabama was slightly more successful in that category Saturday by converting on 6-of-15 occasions.
Lowe honored before game
College Football Hall of Fame inductee Woodrow Lowe (Central-Phenix City) was honored before the game. Lowe is one of the two Alabama football players named All-American in three different seasons with his best season coming as a sophomore with 134 tackles.
NFL Chief Operating Officer Matthew Sign was on the field to make the presentation aired on CBS. Lowe is the 16th former Alabama player to make the Hall of Fame.