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Saturday, September 26, 2009
Alabama's defense is for real ... Just ask Hogs

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com


Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low


TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama’s defense looks the part, plays the part and sounds the part.

It’s the real thing and only going to get better.

“As a defense, we haven’t arrived yet,” Alabama sophomore defensive end Marcell Dareus said. “We still have a lot more to prove. We still have a lot more to go and a lot more to work on.
 
 Marvin Gentry/US Presswire
 The Alabama defense limited Arkansas to just 254 yards of total offense.


“We haven’t played our best defensive game.”

That’s the scary part for the rest of the SEC.

On Saturday, the Crimson Tide took Arkansas’ offense and shook it around like a rag doll in a 35-7 beatdown at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Other than a touchdown drive coming out of halftime, Arkansas never really threatened. Quarterback Ryan Mallett spent the afternoon on the run, finishing 12-of-35 for 160 yards, and the Hogs managed just 63 yards on the ground.

Keep in mind that this was the same offense that put up 41 points last week against Georgia and looked as explosive as any offense in the SEC.

“Watching our defense is something,” Alabama receiver Marquis Maze said. “I know how good those guys are. I go against them every day in practice. They’re relentless.”

Mallett and the Hogs wouldn’t argue that assessment. He was sacked three times, and Arkansas lived in third-and-long. Alabama held Arkansas to 2-of-14 on third down.

“That was our plan, to get them out of their game,” Alabama senior linebacker Eryk Anders said. “That’s our plan every week. We want to force the issue. That's what we do. We want you to remember it when somebody on our defense hits you.”

The Crimson Tide played most of the game without sophomore linebacker Dont’a Hightower, who suffered what Alabama officials fear was a season-ending injury to his left knee.

“The initial prognosis is not good,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “But we’re hopeful that it won’t be bad. We’ll know for sure [Sunday], but the initial prognosis is not good.”

If any defense can weather a loss like Hightower, it’s Alabama. Saban has recruited talent on top of talent the past few years.

“It will be tough to fill his shoes,” Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy said of the possibility that Hightower could be gone for the season. “But we have very capable players on this team.

“The depth on this team is unlike anything I’ve been around in my four years here.”

This defense ain't shabby, either.