Saturday, September 24, 2011
Schlabach: Alabama's secondary steps up
By ESPN.com staff
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Arkansas had just stuffed Alabama's offense on three straight plays from the Razorbacks' 1-yard line, forcing the Crimson Tide to kick a 20-yard field goal for a 10-7 lead with about 5½ minutes left to play in the first half of Saturday's game at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
On the sideline, Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban could sense his team's momentum slipping away.
"We had the ball inside the one and we ended up having to settle for a field goal," Saban said. "I think the momentum of the game changed a little bit right there."
But three plays later, Alabama cornerback DeQuan Menzie changed the complexion of the Crimson Tide's SEC opener for good. With the Razorbacks facing third-and-10 at their 20, quarterback Tyler Wilson dropped back and tried to throw to receiver Greg Childs on the left side. Menzie batted the ball up into the air with his hand, grabbed it and ran 25 yards for a touchdown, giving the Tide a 17-7 lead at the half.
The No. 3 Crimson Tide added two quick touchdowns in the third quarter -- the first one on receiver Marquis Maze's spectacular 83-yard punt return and the second on tailback Trent Richardson's 61-yard catch-and-run on a screen pass -- to rout the No. 14 Razorbacks 38-14 win in front of a sold-out crowd of 101,821 fans.
"To intercept and score on defense was probably huge," Saban said. "That was a big turning point in the game from a momentum standpoint. You know, we need to make more plays like that, get more turnovers."
For Mark Schlabach's full story, click here.