Interception returns for TDs spark No. 9 Tide's blowout of Arkansas

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Twice Casey Dick was where no quarterback wants to be -- the last man back after throwing an interception.

Twice he lunged at the Alabama player with the ball, and twice he missed completely.

Javier Arenas and Justin Woodall scored on those long returns, and the ninth-ranked Crimson Tide opened Southeastern Conference play with a 49-14 rout of Arkansas on Saturday.

"All week coach was talking about coming out firing and hitting them in the mouth quick," Arenas said. "I think we did that. It seemed like they knew we were here to play a little football from the get-go."

Alabama (4-0) led 35-7 at halftime, and six of the Crimson Tide's seven touchdowns covered at least 25 yards. After Mark Ingram scored on a 1-yard run, Glen Coffee made it 14-0 for Alabama on what appeared to be a basic run up the middle from deep in Crimson Tide territory. Coffee found a hole and suddenly was in the clear, outrunning the Razorbacks for an 87-yard touchdown.

"We made a lot of big plays which led to relatively short drives, but we'll take those whenever we can," Alabama coach Nick Saban said.

Arkansas (2-1) had to rally for wins over Western Illinois and Louisiana-Monroe and couldn't avoid big mistakes in its first SEC game. Dick's pass late in the first quarter was intercepted by Arenas and returned 63 yards to the end zone. Dick tried to stop him around the 20, but went sprawling as Arenas easily sidestepped him.

The Razorbacks scored on a fourth-down pass from Dick to Andrew Davie, but the Crimson Tide answered with John Parker Wilson's 25-yard touchdown pass to freshman Julio Jones. Wilson moved into sole possession of first place on Alabama's career list with 42 touchdown passes.

Woodall scored just over 2 minutes later on a 74-yard interception return. Dick threw toward the right sideline, but his receiver had already turned upfield. Woodall was the only man in the area, and although Dick hustled back, he didn't come close to tackling the Alabama defensive back.

It was the first time in school history the Crimson Tide scored on two interception returns in the same game. Alabama scored its most points in an SEC game since a 59-28 win over Vanderbilt in 1990.

"We can't give up 14 points on two stupid throws," Dick said. "It's my fault. I have to look at the film and get better. When you make bad throws like that, you just feel horrible."

At the end of the first half, Arkansas had first-and-goal from the 1 and didn't score. The Razorbacks went to intermission down four touchdowns despite outgaining Alabama for the half.

"I felt like we were moving the ball well. The stop on the 1 and the interceptions really hurt our momentum," Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said. "We have got to get where we don't beat ourselves. The first part of winning games is not beating yourselves -- taking care of the ball, being where you're supposed to be, not having assignment errors, getting more big plays than your opponent gets."

Dick's first pass of the second half was also intercepted, and Alabama made it 42-7 on Coffee's 31-yard touchdown run.

Coffee ran for 162 yards for Alabama, off to a good start in its second season under Saban. The Crimson Tide rushed for 328 yards a week before a big matchup at Georgia.

"My message to my team was, you really don't have to be sick to get better," Saban said. "There's a lot of things we can improve on from this game."

Arkansas started a brutal four-game stretch that also includes games against Texas, Florida and Auburn. The Razorbacks are beginning a new era after running backs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones went to the NFL. Petrino was hired as coach in December.

"Even in the two wins that we had, we had places where we were beating ourselves," Petrino said. "We've got a lot to learn, a long way to go."

This was Petrino's most lopsided loss as a college coach. He went 41-9 in four seasons at Louisville before last year's unpleasant stint with the Atlanta Falcons.

Michael Smith ran for 91 yards for Arkansas and caught six passes for 67 yards.

Arkansas freshman Tyler Wilson took over at quarterback late in the game and threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Smith, but Roy Upchurch answered for Alabama with a 62-yard scoring run.

College Football News