No. 2 Alabama survives Young injury to bury Arkansas
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - After Bryce Young was knocked out of the game with a shoulder injury in the second quarter, No. 2 Alabama turned to Jahmyr Gibbs and backup quarterback Jalen Milroe to pull away from No. 20 Arkansas 49-26 Saturday.
Young left with 10:34 remaining in the second quarter with what coach Nick Saban called a sprained right, throwing shoulder and did not return. Young was on the sideline in uniform for the second half.
"Bryce has a little AC sprain in his shoulder. We'll have to take it day-to-day," Saban said. "I think he's OK. He doesn't have a serious injury."
Alabama (5-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) led 14-0 when Young was hurt. Milroe led Alabama to touchdowns on his first two drives to open a 28-0 lead.
No. 20 Arkansas (3-2, 1-2) scored the next 23 points and held the Alabama offense, missing Young, to minus-1 yard in the third quarter.
Young won the Heisman Trophy last year, throwing for 4,872 yards and 47 touchdowns.
On the first drive of the fourth, Milroe restored order for Alabama.
His 77-yard scramble on third-and-15 put the Crimson Tide on the Arkansas 3 and Jase McClellan scored three plays later.
After forcing an Arkansas punt, Gibbs ran 73 yards around the right side to the end zone on the first play and gave Alabama a 19-point lead with 12:17 left. The Razorbacks never recovered.
"It stopped the bleeding for sure because that was third-and-long in bad field position," Saban said. "That was a huge momentum swing in the game, in my opinion. After that, we played better. After that, I think they didn't play as well.
Arkansas had rallied behind a touchdown pass from KJ Jefferson to Ketron Jackson, an 11-yard touchdown run from AJ Green, a recovered onside kick and a short TD run by Rocket Sanders touchdown after a bad snap on a punt by Alabama.
Milroe, a second-year player, was 4 for 9 for 65 yards with a touchdown and ranf for 91 yards and two scores.
Gibbs had 206 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries, including a 76-yard touchdown to seal it in the fourth quarter.
Sanders, the SEC's leading rusher entering the game, had 101 yards on 22 carries for his fourth 100-yard game of the season. Jefferson was 13 of 24 passing for 155 yards with a touchdown.
Jefferson did not return for Arkansas' final two drives. Pittman said the quarterback hit his head on a play before exiting and with the outcome not in doubt, he chose not to put Jefferson back into the game. It was unclear whether that was because of injury or the score.
"Right now, we're one-dimensional," Pittman said. "We've got to be able to throw and catch and protect. We can't just turn around and hand the ball off and beat really good teams."
Alabama has won 16 straight games over the Razorbacks.
Alabama always has answers. Without Young, it simply leaned into its running game.
Arkansas coach Sam Pittman was bold with an onside kick to steal a possession, but the Razobacks' defense couldn't take advantage of Young's absence.
HOPEFUL FOR THE HEISMAN
Young is among the favorites again for the Heisman Trophy in 2022. Saban said he didn't put him back into the game because the injury limited his throwing ability.
"He couldn't go back in the game today because I didn't think he had much steam throwing the ball," Saban said. "He's had these before and in a few days he's responded really well. We'll just have to see how it goes.
BACK TO EARTH
Arkansas cracked the Top 10 two weeks ago after starting 3-0, but could fall out of the rankings after two straight losses to Alabama and Texas A&M. The Razorbacks lost three straight games last year before winning five of their last six.
"We've got to regroup," Pittman said. "Last year we lost three in a row and turned it around. We've got to find a way to turn it around."
Alabama will likely stay at least at No. 2 in the rankings, but with more than half the season to play, Young's status will likely determine whether they stay there for the long term.
Arkansas could drop out of the Top 25 following a second straight loss.
Alabama: Hosts Texas A&M, the only team to beat the Crimson Tide during the regular season last year, next week.
Arkansas: Travels to Mississippi State for Week 6.