FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Punt or go for it?
It wasn’t an easy decision, and the deciding votes came from the players.
With just over a minute to play and only a few links of the chain to gain, Alabama rolled the dice and went for the knockout punch instead of punting it away.
After trying to lure the Razorbacks off sides and two time-outs, Greg McElroy leaned forward for the game-sealing first down.
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“The way they were lining up, there was a crease in the right side,” McElroy said.
So he took the snap and bulled forward to move the chains one final time.
“There are a lot of bad things that can happen when you punt it,” coach Nick Saban said. “You can fumble the snap. They can block it. You have to get into ‘tight punt’ so you don’t have very good coverage. … So, the players said that we can make it, and we did.
“And those are all good calls when they work, and they’re horrible calls when they don’t.”
For a second straight week, an Alabama opponent got under the skin of the usually cool Mark Ingram.
Coming out of the pile on the fourth-down conversion that iced the win, Ingram needed to be restrained by a group of teammates. Jawing continued, and a group of Alabama players needed to drag Ingram back to the Tide sideline to settle down.
When asked about the trouble, Ingram paused and shook his head.
“They were just being a little dirty,” he said with a smile. “You know, a little pushing, grabbing, things like that. The competitive spirit comes out.”
Last week at Duke, Ingram was flagged for unsportsmanlike behavior when he shoved a Blue Devil who was twisting his left knee, which was injured in the preseason.
Maudrecus Humphrey knows all about Alabama football history. His father Bobby Humphrey was a record-breaking running back for the Tide in the 1980s.
But the Hoover graduate chose to attend Arkansas.
With starter Dennis Johnson out for the season, Humphrey shared kickoff return duties with two teammates. He finished with three returns for 62 total yards.
First time trailing
Alabama didn’t take long to fall behind for the first time this season.
And the Tide didn’t exactly get the lead quickly.
The Ryan Mallett-to-Ronnie Wingo touchdown pass on the second play gave the Tide its first deficit of the season and sent the wired home crowd into a frenzy.
The hole remained until Ingram’s 1-yard plunge with 3:18 to play gave Alabama the lead for good.
Emerging from the locker room after Saturday’s win, Tide defensive end Marcell Dareus wore a walking book on this left foot.
The unwelcomed change in footwear was a result of a second-quarter injury that left him limping to the sideline a week after his two-game suspension ended.
Dareus said his ankle rolled when fellow defensive end Damion Square missed a tackle and Square’s leg collided with Dareus’ ankle.
The BCS national championship game defensive MVP returned for the second half, though. He finished with one tackle.
Lester the intercepter
Robert Lester was not a starter until September, but the Alabama sophomore already leads the SEC in interceptions.
The free safety got takeaways No. 3 and 4 Saturday against the league’s premier quarterback in Mallett.
His first interception, coming in the end zone, was the result of good preparation, he said. The Tide had worked on that play all week in practice.
The second came through pure anticipation, he said. Lester just keyed on the eyes of Mallett, and they led him straight to the ball.
White, not red
Something had to give.
With Arkansas calling for fans to participate in a “red out” at Razorback Stadium and crimson being Alabama’s dominant color, the visiting fans had to try something different.
So, instead of wearing home colors, most of the Alabama section of fans wore white to stand out from the Hogs’ faithful.
Whether wearing red or white, the announced crowd of 76,606 was a school record.