Jones No. 98
Starting defensive tackle Byran Jones was not sporting his regular No. 54 Saturday; instead he wore No. 98, the number of senior Robert Thomas, who broke a bone in his leg against South Carolina, ending his season and career at Arkansas. Jones recorded two tackles against the Crimson Tide. Thomas, a team captain, had three tackles, including a sack, against the Gamecocks and was tied for eighth in the Southeastern Conference in tackles for loss with six at the time of his injury. He had a career-high seven tackles against Rutgers in the fourth game of the season. Thomas was replaced in the lineup by Darius Philon, a redshirt freshman from Mobile, Ala.
HUNTER HENRY: The freshman tight end from Little Rock had three catches for 42 yards, including a 25-yarder on Arkansas’ second possession. Henry was Arkansas’ leading receiver. He entered the game with 14 catches for 276 yards and a touchdown, with his longest reception of 52 yards coming against Texas A&M.
AJ McCARRON: The Alabama quarterback posted spectacular numbers while doing nothing flashy against Arkansas on Saturday for the top-ranked Crimson Tide. After the first drive of the second half, McCarron was 14-of-18 for 163 yards and three touchdowns. His quarterback rating at that point was 208.8. By the time McCarron ended his night, his rating had dropped to 190.6 on 15-of-21 for 180 yards. Blake Sims took over for McCarron with just under six minutes to play in the third quarter and Alabama leading 42-0.
200 — Yards rushing by Alabama during the first three quarters.
48 — Number of plays Arkansas ran during the first 45 minutes vs. 47 plays for Alabama.
GIMME FIVE — KEYS TO TODAY’S GAME
1. Handle Adversity
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas was outscored by Texas A&M, beat up at Florida and thoroughly embarrassed against South Carolina.
The first half of Southeastern Conference play has produced few highlights for a program clearly in the midst of a transition year under coach Bret Bielema. The Razorbacks knew their opening stretch in the SEC was going to be challenging and it has lived up to those expectations. It’s not over, yet, either.
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long has a prestigious new position as the chairman of the College Football Playoff selection committee.
Long stressed Thursday he won’t let the opportunity interfere with his responsibilities at Arkansas.
FAYETTEVILLE — Darius Philon has no interest in reliving the details publicly.
“That’s all behind me, man,” Philon said Wednesday.
1. Supporting Bielema
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema has endured a rough start to his Southeastern Conference coaching career, losing three straight games by a combined score of 127-50. But Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long has expressed his belief that the program is moving in the right direction the past few days.
1. Balanced Offense
Alabama’s offense has typically been built around a bruising ground game, which is led by NFL caliber running backs and offensive linemen.
FAYETTEVILLE — Bill Hancock made a prediction about Jeff Long on Monday.
“He’s fixing to become one of the best-known people in college football,” said Hancock, who is the executive director of the College Football Playoff.
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas coach Bret Bielema wants his best players on the field.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a sophomore or a senior. It doesn’t matter if it’s a freshman Arkansas intended to redshirt. Bielema intends to win – and win now - so he’ll do what is necessary to make sure his best players are playing.
1. Early Success
Arkansas has struggled to move the football in two straight games, combining to score only 17 points in losses to Florida and South Carolina.