What We Learned: Alabama vs Arkansas:

After the Crimson Tide were able to pull away in the fourth quarter, the final score between Alabama and Arkansas was not particularly close at 49-26, but there was a serious moment on Saturday where it looked like Alabama may not pull it out. With a completely stagnated offense that could no longer throw the ball, a special teams mishap to hand the Razorbacks a touchdown was the last thing Alabama needed.

But the offense rallied around its running game, the defense tightened things up, and ultimately Alabama was able to make this one a no-doubter by the end. There is plenty to take away from this one, and as always, we will start with the good:

Crimson Tide able to stay composed when things got bad:

Alabama led this game 28-0 at one point. When it got to 28-23, with the Jalen Milroe led offense looking completely dead and having just completely gifted the Hogs a touchdown, I’ll be the first to admit that even though they were leading, I thought the game was over. But it was Milroe’s legs that delivered the spark on 3rd and 15 when it looked like the wheels were about to fall off for the Tide.

Milroe’s 77-yard run was what kept things from completely falling apart for Alabama as Arkansas mounted a furious comeback attempt. The lack of a passing game was concerning, and we’ll address that later on, but there are not many quarterbacks in the nation who could have made the play that Milroe made to keep the Hogs at bay.

Jahmyr Gibbs continues to be the best player on this offense:

After Milroe got the team down to the goal line and Jase McClellan finished the drive off, Alabama was able to force a punt on defense and the remainder of the game became the Jahmyr Gibbs show. Gibbs ran for a 72-yard score on the first play of the ensuing drive to put the game pretty much out of reach for the Tide. The Tide then held Arkansas to a field goal, and then Gibbs ran for a 76-yard touchdown on the second play of the following drive to ice it. In his best game of the season so far, Gibbs finished with 18 carries for 206 yards and two scores.

Bryce Young IS the passing game:

Alabama better pray for the health of Bryce Young. Perhaps with a full week of practice reps, Milroe will be more effective throwing the ball, but the passing game after Young went out with an injury to his throwing shoulder was pretty much non-existent. The lack of an ability to move the ball through the air is what really let the Hogs back into a game that had no business being as close as it was.

I believe the Tide will likely be fine either way at home next week against Texas A&M, but they will absolutely need a strong passing game to go into Knoxville and take down an explosive Tennessee team the following week. The good news is that it sounds like Young’s injury is not devastating, though it remains to be seen how long he will be out for.

Defense steps up when it matters:

Arkansas struggled to consistently throw the ball. With a quarterback like KJ Jefferson, you knew Sam Pittman was going to run him, and the Hogs continuously went to the option. It was far from perfect, but the defense tightened up and made key stops when they needed to. I also thought this was perhaps the best game of Kool-Aid McKinstry’s career at Alabama. He was completely shutdown in coverage, as well as extremely effective in the return game.

Overall assessment:

This was a great team win for Alabama. The defense is improving every week, and the ability to run the ball at will was encouraging. Having Milroe as a threat likely keeps the defense guessing and opens things up for the running game as well. But if Bryce Young has to miss extended time, this team could be in some trouble. Assuming he starts next week, Jalen Milroe must be more effective as a passer than he was on Saturday. And if Young has to miss Tennessee, I don’t think Alabama will escape Knoxville with a victory.