I was really happy for Ben Cleveland. I had the chance to communicate via e-mail with some of Ben’s family during fall camp after I posted this picture of him in one of our practice reports. (It was taken right before he did some pushups for dropping a pass!)
I know Ben has fought through some adversity this past year just to be on this team. And it’s good to see that effort rewarded with a big play in a game that will be remembered around these parts for a while.
Many people seem to be upset at Houston Dale for the clock management at the end of regulation. After Alabama’s missed field goal in the fourth quarter, Arkansas got the ball with 3:06 remaining and two timeouts. And if this was a seasoned offense with a veteran quarterback having a good day, I’d say go for it. We, of course, didn’t have that on Saturday.
Now granted, I’ve been as big of a critic of Houston Dale’s past history of tenative playcalling as anybody. But I had no problem with the decision to play it safe at that point because, no matter what happens, you absolutely cannot leave any time on the clock in that situation.
With a few incomplete passes and a three and out, you’d easily leave over two minutes for the Bama offense to drive down the field against a defense that had already been out there most of the day. Instead, after making a few first downs and trying to break a big running play, we ended up punting with only 15 seconds left in regulation.
It wasn’t exactly a special teams clinic out there. Everyone, of course, saw the placekicking problems. But when Felix Jones tiptoed out of the end zone on the opening kickoff of the second half and eventually got tackled at the seven yard line, I wasn’t mad at him. I was mad at fellow returner London Crawford for not going across the field and physically keeping Felix from crossing the goal line. Crawford is a freshman, of course, and in a new role. But still, it’s part of his job to help Felix out in that situation.
I thought Mike Nail did a better job on the radio broadcast. His call of Randy Kelly’s fumble recovery was great. And although he’s the only person who could say for sure, I’ve sensed over the first three games that Mike has had a hard time saying “Touchdown Arkansas” during the broadcast. Almost like he wasn’t sure it was right to use the late Paul Eells’ famous words. But on Saturday, he bellowed the phrase out a few times with great gusto…almost like it was a tribute to Paul.
Makes you wonder if Paul’s spirit might have been somewhere there at the stadium telling Mike to let it rip…as well as helping Ben Cleveland secure that catch…and making sure that Jeremy Davis split the uprights when it counted.