TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — It was a little bit soccer, a little bit volleyball and one memorable touchdown for Alabama senior cornerback DeQuan Menzie.
Menzie was on the punt-coverage team in the first quarter of Saturday’s 38-14 drubbing of Arkansas when the ball bounced off his helmet, and he was flagged for catching interference. In the second quarter, a Tyler Wilson pass intended for Greg Childs was batted by Menzie high into the air.
Positioning himself under the ball, Menzie then raced for a 25-yard touchdown that gave the Crimson Tide a 17-7 lead.
“I saw it at the last minute and I tipped it,” Menzie said. “I tried to run up under it and I got it, and I just saw the touchdown and took off.”
It was the first career interception and the first career score for Menzie, a 6-foot, 198-pounder from Columbus, Ga. It also was the biggest play of the afternoon, according to Alabama coach Nick Saban.
“We just had the ball inside their 1-yard line and had to settle for a field goal, and I think the momentum of the game changed a little bit right there,” Saban said. “To intercept and score on the next series was huge. That was a big turning point in the game from a momentum standpoint, and we need to make more plays like that.”
Menzie’s interception for a touchdown was Alabama’s first since linebacker C.J. Mosley had a 41-yarder last year against Georgia State.
Junior tailback Trent Richardson was quite the offensive weapon for the Crimson Tide, rushing 17 times for 126 yards and adding three receptions for 85 yards and a touchdown. His score came off a 61-yard screen five minutes into the third quarter that put Alabama up 31-7; it was his ninth touchdown in four games this season.
“He plays well without the ball,” Saban said. “A lot of players don’t think they have to do things when they don’t have the ball, and they don’t realize the importance of what the other 10 guys do when they have the ball. He had a great game.
“He’s a good receiver, he’s a good blocker, and he’s certainly a good runner.”
Saturday was the first SEC start for Crimson Tide quarterback AJ McCarron, who was more than ready. McCarron completed all six of his attempts in the first quarter and was 10-of-12 at halftime.
The redshirt sophomore finished 15-of-20 for 200 yards and two touchdowns, with the first coming on a 37-yard connection to tight end Michael Williams after the Tide had lined up for a 54-yard field-goal attempt.
“AJ is a leader out there,” Richardson said. “He was trying to take over the game, and that’s what he did. He’s a smart guy, and if you want a quarterback, he’s the perfect one for an offense.”
Said Saban: “AJ did a really good job of managing the game. We feel really happy with the way he did that.”
Mosley left the game in the first quarter with an elbow injury, and Saban said he was day-to-day. ... Alabama has allowed seven or fewer first-half points in nine consecutive games. ... The Tide have won 20 straight SEC openers, with a breakdown of 12 wins over Vanderbilt, five over Arkansas and one each against Kentucky, Ole Miss and South Carolina. ... Phillip Sims, who began the season sharing time with McCarron, didn’t play until 2:45 remained.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...